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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Trump takes Veterans Day speech in a very different direction


Former President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a campaign event at Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H. on Nov. 11, 2023.

By Michael Gold


Former President Donald Trump, on a day set aside to celebrate those who have defended the United States in uniform, promised to honor veterans in part by assailing what he portrayed as America’s greatest foe: the political left.


Using incendiary and dehumanizing language to refer to his opponents, Trump vowed to “root out” what he called “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”


“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within,” Trump said Saturday in a nearly two-hour Veterans Day address in Claremont, New Hampshire.


Trump accused Democrats and President Joe Biden of trying to roll back his efforts to expand veteran access to health care, causing soaring inflation, pushing the country to the brink of World War III, endangering troops in Afghanistan and of lying and rigging elections.


He also promised to care for America’s veterans, reviving a hyperbolic claim that he made throughout his 2016 campaign that Democrats “treat the illegal aliens just pouring into our country better than they treat our veterans.”


And he said he would divert money currently earmarked “for the shelter and transport of illegal aliens” to instead provide shelter and treatment for homeless military veterans.


Here are some of the more notable elements of Trump’s Veterans Day speech.


Courtroom cameras


Trump, who is facing a civil fraud trial in New York and four criminal indictments, said in a radio interview this past week that he would welcome cameras in the courtroom. He went further Saturday.


“I want this trial to be seen by everybody in the world,” Trump said to a cheering crowd, referring to his federal election trial in Washington. “The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness, and I want sunlight.”


Trump, who has denounced the prosecutions he faces as politically motivated and accused Biden of weaponizing the Justice Department, said he was convinced Americans who watched the trial would reach his view.


“Every person in America and beyond should have the opportunity to study this case firsthand,” he said.


Trump’s remarks came the day after his lawyers in the case filed papers arguing those proceedings should be televised, backing a similar push by other media organizations.


It was a rare instance in which the former president found common ground with the mainstream media, which Trump attacked repeatedly Saturday.


Hands raised


As he has before, Trump called for executing drug dealers, praising China for making drug trafficking a capital offense. But in New Hampshire, a state where the opioid crisis has hit particularly hard, he turned to an informal straw poll to strengthen his case.


“Let’s have a vote,” Trump said to the crowd. “Who would be in favor of the death penalty — now, wait, don’t go yet — knowing that it will solve the problem?”


A majority of the crowd raised their hands.


Fewer hands went up when Trump asked who would oppose such a move. When one woman raised her hand emphatically, Trump looked at her with a small smile and asked, “Are you a liberal?”


She wildly shook her head to the contrary.


Facts flouted


Trump also repeated lies, falsehoods, exaggerations and half-truths that he has told routinely on a number of subjects, including on gas prices, U.S. energy independence, election fraud and the 2020 elections.


“I’m a very proud election denier,” Trump said.


Insults hurled


Trump had previously refrained from commenting on persistent rumors about whether Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wears heel lifts in his cowboy boots — the subject of late-night jokes and social media gossip. But on Saturday he finally couldn’t resist.


After mocking DeSantis for courting farmers in Iowa, Trump made an aside: “I’m not wearing lifts, either, by the way. I don’t have 6-inch heels!” The comment was an echo of a slight by Vivek Ramaswamy in Wednesday’s debate, where the entrepreneur and author made a dig at the Florida governor.


He then did a clownish impression of DeSantis walking off the stage at Wednesday night’s debate that looked ripped from Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks. “I thought he was wearing ice skates,” Trump joked.


Trump also derided Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican who has said Trump cannot win next year; Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic former House speaker; Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent; and Biden.


Compliments given


Trump lauded Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “There’s a guy I’d like to make my defense chief,” he said. “I wouldn’t call him my defense chief, I’d call him my offense chief.”


And he complimented President Xi Jinping of China, of whom he said, “He’s like Central Casting. There’s nobody in Hollywood that can play the role of President Xi — the look, the strength, the voice.”

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