YOUNGSTOWN — In a campaign-style rally with enthusiastic supporters, President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed promises to bring back jobs and put America’s economic interests first as he vowed in his political campaign here last year.
The Covelli Centre’s capacity of about 7,000 people was filled as the hall thundered with cheers for Mr. Trump’s assertions, including boasts of having pulled the U.S. out of the Pacific trade and Paris climate change agreements negotiated by his predecessor.
“We will either re-negotiate NAFTA or we will terminate it,” he said of the deal that eliminated trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
“We will no longer be the stupid people. We will no longer sacrifice jobs from any state in this union to enrich other countries,” he said.
The rally was virtually identical to events Mr. Trump held around Ohio and nationwide during his campaign to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
A real estate magnate before he became president, Mr. Trump promised that the abandoned industrial sites around Youngstown will be reopened with new jobs or torn down.
“Don’t sell your homes,” he told the crowd, promising housing values will rise.
Supporters directed boos and catcalls at reporters present when he mentioned the media, and “fake, fake, fake news.”
Outside the venue a group of about 20 protesters chanted anti-Trump slogans, such as “No KKK, No Fascist USA,” adjacent to concession stands selling Trump t-shirts with slogans such as “Suck It! Liberals.”
Inside he compared himself with the presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore. He said, “every President on Mount Rushmore believed in protecting American industry. Now we are claiming our heritage as a manufacturing nation again.”
He said his administration is “bringing back our sovereignty as a nation,” and he boasted of having cut illegal immigration on the southern border by record numbers, even without the wall that he promised during the campaign.
Mr. Trump assured the crowd a wall would be built, but didn’t claim Mexico would pay for it, a staple of his pre-election campaign.
He lauded crackdowns on “bloodthirsty gangs” that he said “slice and dice” beautiful young girls just to see them suffer.
"We are destroying the transational gangs, and I can tell you we’re not doing it in a politically correct manner, our guys are tougher than their guys."
He sketched a revamped immigration system that would be “merit-based.”
“We want people that work really hard in their country and are going to come in our country and work really, really hard. We don’t want people who are going to come into our country and get on welfare and stay there for the rest of their lives,” Mr. Trump said.
On health care, he challenged Republican congressmen to live up to their campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
The Ohio Democratic Party issued an attack on the vote to begin debating the repeal of several ACA provisions. The measure passed the Senate Tuesday with Mr. Trump’s backing.
“What he won’t mention is that the health care repeal that Republicans just advanced breaks nearly every promise he made to Ohioans,” the party’s statement said. It said Mr. Trump “falsely claimed that the health care system was collapsing.”
Tuesday marked Mr. Trump’s second trip to Ohio since his inauguration six months ago, returning to a part of the state where disaffected working class voters helped hand him a victory in the presidential election last year.
Mr. Trump didn’t carry Mahoning County, but Mrs. Clinton’s anemic victory here — winning by 3 percentage points, compared with President Barack Obama’s re-election margin of 27 percentage points in 2012 — helped push Mr. Trump over the top in Ohio.
Ohio Republican Chairman Jane Timken, who was elected with President Trump’s backing in January, welcomed the crowd, telling them, “”Like all of you I love our president. I love our country. And I love the Mahoning Valley.”
Ms. Timken said Mr. Trump’s list of achievement includes dismantling the Obama “regulatory state,” 800,000 jobs created, a strong stock market, and unemployment last month hitting its lowest level in 16 years.
In the arena, Debbie Taylor, 62, of Youngstown, wore a t-shirt emblazoned “Je Suis Deplorable” and a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.
She praised Mr. Trump as one who will restore the American dream for working class people, such as her immigrant uncle who became a millionaire.
“I think he’d be doing a lot better if people would cut out the partisan politics and start looking at what is best for our country,” Ms. Taylor said.
John Jablonski, 47, of Brookfield, Ohio, a half-hour from Youngstown, said Mr. Trump is “getting a lot of obstructionism from his own party.”
“If he does a good job, we’ll vote him in again,” Mr. Jablonski, a business owner, said.
President Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump’s speech was interrupted by a Trump protester being ushered out.
“We are taking our country back. That is what happened on Nov. 8, ladies and gentlemen,” Ms. Trump said. "He had a better message, he had a better vision for America. He was a better candidate.”
But she said viewers of television news would think differently, a comment that prompted the crowd to turn and face the media pen and point fingers and yell.
“The same people touting this fake Russia story are the same people who gave us the fake polls, the same people who said ‘no path to victory for Donald Trump, they’re the same ones pushing that fake narrative,” Ms. Trump said.
In a shorter speech, her husband Eric Trump also touted a record stock market and promised "we will be back."
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