President Donald Trump was in full-on campaign mode on Saturday night. It was supposed to be a rally for struggling GOP candidate Rick Saccone but Trump ended up delivering one of his signature rambling speeches where he praises himself constantly while bashing Democrats and the media. He, of course, seemingly also couldn’t help but talk once again about his election victory 16 months ago.
During one of his tangents, Trump talked positively about the death penalty for drug dealers. It was not the first time he discussed the idea but with his words he seemed to confirm a Washington Post story from Friday that said the White House was considering a new policy that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers. On Saturday night, Trump repeatedly said he didn’t know whether the United States was ready for that shift, but he certainly made it clear that he thought it was worth studying, mentioning China and Singapore as examples.
Trump mocked the idea that Washington committees could solve the nation’s drug woes. “Do you think the drug dealers who kill thousands of people during their lifetime, do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?” Trump asked. “The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness. When you catch a drug dealer, you’ve got to put him away for a long time.” Trump repeatedly questioned why murderers are treated more harshly than drug dealers. “If someone goes and shoots somebody, kills somebody they get the death penalty,” said Trump. In contrast, he noted “a drug dealer will kill 2,000 to 5,000 people during the course of his life”.
Every time Trump praised the idea of the death penalty for drug dealers the crowd went wild. But the president recognized his idea was controversial. “I don’t know if this country is ready but I think it’s a discussion we have to start thinking about,” he said.
Trump also talked about his decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and praised himself for the move. When the crowd booed at the mention of Kim’s name, Trump chided them: “We have to be very nice.” The commander in chief also said he deserves a dose of gratitude for everything going so well in the Winter Olympics. “It’s a little hard to sell tickets when you think you’re going to be nuked,” Trump said.
The president went after Democrats too. “Could you imagine covering Bernie? Or Pocahontas?” he said. “How about that? Can you imagine having to cover Elizabeth Warren for four years?” He once again called Rep. Maxine Waters “a very low-IQ individual” and expressed hope that Oprah Winfrey will be the Democratic nominee. “I’d love Oprah to win, I’d beat Oprah. I know her weakness,” he said. “Wouldn’t we love to run against Oprah? I’d love it. That would be a painful experience for her.”
Trump was in so much of a campaign mode that he even used the opportunity to unveil his 2020 slogan: “Keep America Great.”
Although he didn’t talk about Saccone much, Trump’s presence there on Saturday night shows how the election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District is being seen as a bellwether ahead of the midterms. Trump won by 20 points there but now the Democratic and Republican candidates are running neck and neck.