In 1996, President Bill Clinton promised a “bridge to the 21st century” in Milwaukee. George W. Bush called John Kerry an Iraq War flip-flopper in Poplar Bluffs, Missouri, in 2004. Barack Obama opened up about his car rescue in Toledo, Ohio, in 2012 – but only after visiting the damage caused by the hurricane on the Gulf Coast.
Summoning reporters to the North Portico of the White House for a noon press conference, Trump again used the executive mansion as a political stage – an ethical line he began to bend months ago, but broke completely and thrown out completely at the Republican National Convention last month.
Coming out of the double wooden doors with a sharp salute – “Happy Labors – Labor Day” – the president wasted little time before attacking his rival Joe Biden, who was spending the day meeting with union leaders in the South East. Pennsylvania.
He blamed Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris for questioning the safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine that appeared to be rushing to market ahead of polling day – even as he continued to project an accelerated schedule that health experts have warned was unrealistic.
He defended himself against accusations of disrespecting the military – even as he accused senior Pentagon officials of working to enrich military contractors at the expense of troops.
And Trump insisted he was ending attempts to reassess American history to take into account the experiences of oppressed groups – even as he claimed to be against “the culture of cancellation.”
Trump even got angry when reporters attempted to question him while wearing masks – a practice he inconsistently advised to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while poking fun at those who follow recommendations for health.
It was a somewhat discursive and decidedly non-traditional Labor Day for a president who has repeatedly assaulted his rival for not leaving his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to campaign. Biden, Harris and Vice President Mike Pence all made in-person campaign stops on Monday.
Trump will go into campaign later this week in North Carolina and Michigan. But on Monday, he seemed happy to be fighting his rhetorical battles from home.
After Harris told CNN’s Dana Bash over the weekend that she would be reluctant to get the shot before election day, Trump accused the California senator of “reckless vaccine rhetoric” and asked her to ‘excuse.
“It undermines science. What happens is all of a sudden you have this amazing vaccine and because of this false rhetoric – it’s political rhetoric, ”he said.
In the CNN interview, Harris said she wouldn’t believe Trump’s word that a vaccine approved under his leadership was safe.
“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and that he would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the effectiveness and reliability of everything he talks about,” she said. .
Yet even as the president denied that he himself was using the vaccine race for political ends, he launched the prospect of major development within the next month.
“It’s going to be – it’s going to be done in a very short period of time. We could even have it during the month of October, ”he said. CNN reported last week that Trump was pressuring his administration to develop a vaccine quickly, aware of the potential benefit to his political outlook.
“Contrary to all lies, the vaccine – these are political lies, they will say anything, and it’s so dangerous for our country, what they say – but the vaccine will be very safe and very effective and it could be delivered very soon. You could have a really big surprise ahead, ”he said on Monday.
Continuing to vehemently deny reports that he said disrespectful words about fallen U.S. servicemen, Trump suggested that senior military officials dislike him because he was trying to end foreign conflicts while ‘they were trying to please the military contractors.
“I’m not saying the military is in love with me – the soldiers are probably the best in the Pentagon because they don’t want to do anything but wage wars for all these wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and keep everything happy. But we are coming out of endless wars, ”Trump said.
Recent tensions between Trump and his military leadership have done little to hide, including over the use of American troops in American cities and the renaming of military facilities bearing the names of Confederate generals.
Still, Trump’s comment on Monday was notable for his suggestion that four-star generals are simply trying to line the pockets of corporations; the accusation reflected a dramatic break in the commander-in-chief which will only aggravate the existing tension.
Trump was later asked if he had asked his former chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, to refute reports of his views on the military. Kelly’s former deputy Zach Fuentes issued a statement minutes before Trump emerged, denying that he acted as a source for the original report, which appeared in The Atlantic magazine, and claiming that ‘he hadn’t heard Trump call “losers” or “suckers.”
“No,” said Trump. “I have nothing against John. It was a different message from Friday, when Trump told reporters that Kelly had left the White House “exhausted.”
When Trump was asked about his promise to withdraw federal funding from schools teaching Project 1619, a New York Times collection seeking to reframe American history around when the first slave ships arrived on American shores, he denounced what he called “canceling culture”.
“We grew up with a certain story and now they’re trying to change our story,” he says.