President Donald Trump on Thursday mocked the #MeToo movement as he repeatedly attacked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her heritage, said Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the “mid-60s,” and made thinly-veiled swipes at fellow Republicans John McCain and George H.W. Bush, who are both in ailing health.
Trump held the rally in Montana Thursday primarily to inflict political vengeance on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester for his role in sinking the nominee for Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs earlier this year.
But the free-wheeling speech largely focused more on a laundry list of Trump’s favorite rally topics during another summer campaign event in a state that went heavily for him in 2016.
Trump, who made no mention of the resignation of embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt hours earlier, also teased his trip to Europe and the forthcoming announcement of his Supreme Court Justice next week.
Trump, in an effort to attack Tester, painted Democrats as the party of open borders and crime.
But his most extended attack was aimed at Warren, a Democrat he has long targeted for claiming that she is part Native American and derisively nicknamed “Pocahontas,” after the 17th century historical figure. On Thursday, Trump mocked people who called on him to apologize for the remark and sarcastically apologized to the historic figure.
“I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize to you. To you I apologize,” he said. “To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.”
He went on to suggest that, should Warren win the Democratic nomination in 2020 and they were to debate, he would toss an ancestry test to her and dare her to take it. In doing so, he made light of the #MeToo movement.
“We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the Me Too generation, and we will very gently take that kit, slowly toss it” to her, Trump said, adding that he would offer $1 million to charity if she took the test and it “shows you are an Indian.”
“I have a feeling she will say no,” he added.
In a tweet following his speech, Warren said, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”
Trump’s comments on #MeToo come on the heels of his hiring former Fox News executive Bill Shine, who left his role after being accused of mishandling a flurry of sexual harassment allegations within the network. Earlier Thursday on Air Force One, Trump also defended Republican Rep. Jim Jordan against allegations he overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
“I don’t believe them at all. I believe him,” Trump said.
Warren was far from the only Democrat who drew Trump’s acidic rhetoric on Thursday, though. The President continued a long running fight with California Rep. Maxine Waters by slamming her intelligence.
“Democrats want anarchy. They really do. And they don’t know who they are playing with, folks,” Trump said. “I said it the other day, yes, she is a low IQ individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day. I mean, honestly she is somewhere in the mid-60s. I believe that.”
Early on in the speech, Trump delivered a sweeping rebuke of Tester, arguing that while the senator tells Montana voters that he stands with the President on certain issues, he doesn’t when it matters. Trump excoriated Tester for voting against the Republican health care plan, the Trump-back tax cuts, strict immigration laws and Neil Gorsuch, his first pick for the Supreme Court.
“Jon Tester says one thing when he is in Montana, but I will tell you he does the exact opposite when he goes to Washington,” Trump said. “You deserve a senator who doesn’t just talk like he is from Montana, you deserve a senator who actually votes like he is from Montana.”
But shortly after attacking Tester, he touted his efforts to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs an two bills that Tester helped write: the VA MISSION Act and VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.
Tester, who has run for re-election by pledging to work with Trump when needed, prepared for Trump’s visit by taking out full-page ads in 14 of the state’s newspapers touting the bills Trump has signed in his first 19 months in office and welcoming him to Montana.
“Welcome to Montana & thank you President Trump for supporting Jon’s legislation to help veterans and first responders, hold the VA accountable, and get rid of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government,” reads the ad.
Trump seemingly ignored the outreach, telling supporters that he would rather have people who speak ill of him and vote with him than those who speak highly of him and vote against him.
Trump dedicated considerably more of his campaign rally attacking Tester than he did uplifting Matt Rosendale, his Republican opponent, and he admitted that his beef with the Democrat stems from guilt over Dr. Ronny Jackson’s failed nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, not just politics.
Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led the charge against Jackson, the White House physician who was briefly Trump’s pick to lead the embattled agency. Tester’s criticism helped lead to Jackson withdrawing his nomination over allegations of misconduct at the White House medical office, angering Trump.
Trump admitted in Great Falls, Montana that he likely traveled to the state because of the fight.
“Jon Tester said things about him that were horrible and that weren’t true,” Trump said. “That is probably why I am here because I won Montana by so many points, I don’t have to come here.”
He added: “You know, I feel guilty. I feel guilty. … I sort of feel guilty for this whole thing.”
It was clear during the speech, though, the Trump’s eyes were looking even further than 2018.
When he introduced Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, he noted that he was up for re-election in 2020, adding to cheers that they were going to be “running together.”
And in addition to his attacks on Warren, Trump slammed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, all widely considered top candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
But his attacks were not limited to the opposing party, either.
Trump continued to attack, without naming him, Arizona Sen. John McCain – who is ailing with brain cancer – for voting against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The attacks continued despite recent criticism from Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, and Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s closest friend in the Senate.
Trump also mocked President George H.W. Bush’s slogan during his rally.
“You know all of the rhetoric you see. ‘Thousands points of light.’ What the hell was that by the way?” Trump said in Montana.
Bush popularized the speech in his 1988 nomination acceptance speech and it was later used to name a foundation.
“Thousand points of light,” he said. “What does that mean? I know one thing. Make America Great Again we understand. Putting America first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? It was put out by a Republican wasn’t it.”
Trump also commented on his upcoming trip to Europe where, among other stops, he will meet directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the speech, the President slammed reporters and commentators for questioning whether he was preparing for the meeting.
“Trust me, we’ll be just fine,” he said. “Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”
Trump used the fact that some were questioning his preparedness to also attack the media.
“Fake news. Bad people,” he said, later adding that he and Putin “might even end up having a good relationship.”