President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Ohio on Friday as he celebrated what he described as a “really historic week for America.” But even as he touted the swearing-in of Brett Kavanaugh as the nation’s newest Supreme Court justice, the president also went on a bit of a history lesson and talked about the Civil War, praising Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Union general Ulysses S. Grant.
“So Robert E. Lee was a great general and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia, he couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee,” Trump said at a rally in Lebanon, Ohio. “He was going crazy. I don’t know if you know this story, but Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle and Abraham Lincoln came home and he said ‘I can’t beat Robert E. Lee.” He used that tale as an introduction of how Grant, an Ohio native, went on to defeat Lee despite his heavy drinking.
Although Trump praised Lee in form of introduction to Grant, the president has often sparked controversy when he has talked about the Civil War. He has talked negatively about the move to take down monuments that honor of Confederate leaders. “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he wrote in a tweet last year.
On Friday, Trump praised Lee moments after he had spoken positively about African American unemployment numbers and called on black voters to “honor us” by voting for Republicans in November. “Get away from the Democrats,” he said. “Think of it: We have the best numbers in history. … I think we’re going to get the African American vote, and it’s true.”
Trump also repeatedly tooted his own horn, listing what he described as his administration’s accomplishments, including the release of an American pastor from a Turkish prison and new trade deal negotiations. “We are now the hottest country anywhere in the world,” Mr. Trump said.