Trump Says He Needs Rick Saccone Ahead of Pennsylvania Special Election

Arnold Nichols
March 12, 2018

"The president's support is key to attaining victory", Saccone told rally attendees about 45 minutes before Trump took the stage.

Trump has visited the district twice - including a rally Saturday night - in an effort to buoy Republican Saccone in a southwestern Pennsylvania district Trump won by almost 20 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

He opened his whirlwind speech by touting his administration's new tariffs - 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports - before wading into the issues surrounding North Korea, previewing his 2020 campaign slogan, discussing the merits of giving drug dealers the death penalty and attacking a series of familiar targets.

The race between Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb is unexpectedly close in an area Trump easily won in 2016.

The president noted that both Lamb and Saccone both have endorsed the tariffs. The move came just days before his expected rally on Saturday in the heart of steel country.

"A lot of steel mills are now opening up because of what I did", the president told the crowd in this conservative district.

Trump was particularly energetic in attacking the media, leveling a profane taunt toward NBC's Chuck Todd, whom the president has nicknamed "Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd". "I know her weakness". "... These people are killing our kids and they're killing our families, and we have to do something". "Wouldn't we love to run against Oprah?"

But, it's also about Lamb's style and charisma, Republicans say. And on the topic of global trade, Trump faulted his predecessors all the way back to President Ronald Reagan, who held office for most of the 1980s, for what he sees as the current unfairness in the country's trade relations with much of the rest of the world.

Trump said he spoke with leaders in Asia about how they handled the drug problem.

"No, it's very positive", Trump said after his mention of Kim's name prompted boos and jeers.

For his part, Saccone was thrilled to have the president's help.

Before the speech, White House officials said Mr. Trump would focus much of his time framing his new steel and aluminum tariffs as a boon to workers in steel-producing regions such as western Pennsylvania.

"Some countries have a very, very tough penalty - the ultimate penalty - and by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do", he said at the time. Trump said of the 33-year-old Lamb "I hear he's nice looking, I think I'm better looking" and then followed up by saying Saccone "is handsome too".

The White House also announced this week that Trump had agreed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a stunning development that shocked the diplomatic and political world.

Having campaigned on the tariff issue, Trump said the duties are created to counter bad trade deals and revive manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas. "We need him. We need the votes", Mr. Trump said.

Instead, Trump repeatedly lashed out at the "fake, fake media" and insulted reporters, prompting the crowd to break into a round of a favorite 2016 chant, "CNN sucks".

Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, went on to win the race, becoming the first Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in more than two decades. "So I don't think it's a responsible thing to do". "If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn't come here tonight".

"They had state judges that are Democrats change your voting districts - what kind of stuff is that?" "We have to have him", Trump said.

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