On Thursday night, President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of over 10,000 at a rally in the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. During the rally — Trump’s first of the 2020 campaign cycle — the president criticized his Democratic adversaries and largely concentrated on policies related to immigration and infrastructure pursued by his administration during the last two years.
Early on in the speech, Trump addressed his use of a declaration of national emergency to continue construction of a wall on the Southern border.
“We had to go down a little bit of a different path, but that’s okay,” Trump says. “National emergency it is. And if you look at the border, and if you look at the hundreds of thousands of people that are invading, or at least trying to invade our country, you would know that we need it.”
Preceding Trump’s address, LSA senior Austin McIntosh, a former member of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans, expressed enthusiasm about the president’s focus on the swing state of Michigan early on in the campaign cycle. In the 2016 election, Trump won the state by a slim margin of just over 10,000 votes.
“President Donald Trump speaking in Grand Rapids is tremendously exciting for me as a conservative University of Michigan student,” McIntosh said. “I'm sure he is here to attempt to drum up support from many blue-collar Michiganders who helped him swing Michigan in the past election cycle. It will be an amazing opportunity for University of Michigan students to make the trip out to Grand Rapids to hear another opinion or just to hear our president speak.”
LSA sophomore Camille Mancuso, communications director for the University’s chapter of College Democrats, also recognized the implications of Trump’s early focus on the vote in Michigan.
“Michigan is going to be a really important state for the 2020 election,” Mancuso said. “It moved to red in 2016, and then had a lot of Democratic support and a lot of Democratic turnout in 2018 in the midterm elections with Gretchen Whitmer and the entire Michigan executive ticket. So I think we’re going to see a lot of candidates coming to Michigan. I know College Dems, we really look forward to welcoming all the Democratic 2020 primary candidates.”
During his address, Trump concentrated on American industry and manufacturing, particularly with relation to Michigan’s automobile industry.
“We’ve created, since my election, 5.5 million new jobs — nobody would have believed that’s possible,” Trump said. “Including 600,000 brand new manufacturing jobs. And it’s going to be increasing by a lot because you have a lot of companies pouring into Michigan and your other great states.”
Trump’s address Thursday night was also his first rally since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In a report released by U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Sunday, it was announced that while the investigation did not find evidence sufficient to indict Trump of collusion, it also did not exonerate the president from potential obstruction of justice.
In his address, however, Trump outwardly stated the report had cleared him of allegations of obstruction and had fully disproved Democratic accusations of Russian collusion.
“The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction,” Trump said. “This was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to sabotage the will of the American people.”
Following his comments about industry and manufacturing in Michigan, Trump also addressed health care policy, funding for veterans’ programs and the dismantling of free trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.