At Newport News Rally, Trump says he is working so hard compared to Biden, he’ll be embarrassed if he loses. Here’s the full news report from the campaign trail, 39 days before the Election Day.
We are heading to a Trump campaign event at the airport in Newport News, Va.
Vice President Pence will be there, too, per his chief of staff Marc Short, who checked in at JBA with fresh poolers.
Very slight drizzle at Andrews.
We are flying a smaller, cell service-unfriendly Air Force One. Press seating three across. Tail no. 90016.
The president’s motorcade came into view from under the wing at 7:53, a long parade of flashing blue and red. He got out of the Beast and boarded the front stairs without stopping to chat. He waved from the top and was aboard at 7:56.
Uneventful and brief flight from Joint Base Andrews to southeast Virginia.
Judd Deere stopped back and gave a rundown of VIPs aboard the flight, other than himself:
Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, Jason Miller, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Also not aboard: White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Take that as a sign of whatever you like ahead of the SCOTUS nominee announcement tomorrow afternoon. The cozy Air Force One was wheels up from JBA at 8:09 pm and wheels down at Newport News at 8:44 pm. Taxiing.
As thousands of people in southeast Virginia already know, Air Force One pulled to a stop as a backdrop to the stage set up at the airport. The pounding bass of the incredibly loud sound system was leaking into the cabin and as we emerged into the air the pool could recognize Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Huge huge cheers when the president was introduced and he strode the short walk from the plane. Relatively few cheers when he asked how many people are here from nearby North Carolina. “Not bad.”
Many thousands of people are outside. It obviously rained here because the press tables were covered with water. Apologies for the delay. Wifi/internet wasn’t working.
He opened with riff attacking Biden for promising to put Beto O’Rourke of Texas in charge of gun policy.
“Only by voting for me can you save your country and save your Second Amendment.”
Moved on to polls etc.
“I said let’s give Virginia shot. We’re nearby.”
It is a lovely evening. Gentle breeze. The mid-60s. No doubt that’s making it comfortable for the many many thousands of people packed together on stadium-style risers and on the tarmac.
“You didn’t hear any of this bullshit,” Trump said of the Russia hoax at 9:29 pm, about 20 minutes in, if you want to find the full context.
Masks usage is mixed. Hard to say. Could be 10% of the crowd. Could be 25%. Lots of folks near the press have masks lowered, around their neck.
Some folks in the crowd:
29-year-old Katie Koslow, a military spouse who lives just on the other side of the airfield, in Newport News. She came with her husband and their 6-year-old, who craned to see Trump from atop dad’s shoulders. None of the three wore masks.
“We’re here to show our daughter what it means to be patriot,” Koslow said, Of the crowd: “It’s wonderful. What’s happened with the shutdown is a travesty. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for morale.”
Does she know anyone who’s contracted COVID-19? “Not a one,” she said.
Nearby, 69-year-old Robert Jernigan, a civilian worker at Langley Air Force Base. He was wearing a mask but likewise had no qualms about the turnout despite the state’s ban on gatherings over 250.
“I’m glad to see so many people. You’ve got to live life,” he said. “A lot more people wanted to come but there was a mix-up. People thought they had to have paper tickets.”
Trump name-checked Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s no Mike Pence in his assessment. He played with the pronunciation a few times and quipped a mnemonic: “kah-MAH-la” and others, and “KAH-muh-la” (sounding like comma-la) and added, “She’s like a comma.”
He also name-checked Republican candidates, including Scott Taylor, the former congressman seeking a comeback after losing two years in a scandal involving aides and fraudulent election petitions. POTUS did riff as usual on ballot integrity related to mail-in ballots but did not mention that scandal.
When Trump called out to Virginia Republican chairman Rich Anderson he asked “how are we doing? I don’t want to be wasting my time” by campaigning in Virginia. Answers on, just behind POTUS and to his left behind the barrier, and wearing a mask, flashed a right thumb up.
The people at Trump’s feet all had folding chairs but hardly any were seated, just as most folks in the stadium risers were standing throughout. A huge American flag hung from yellow cranes to POTUS’ left, as the backdrop for cutaway shows. AF1 is behind him for head-on photos.
VP Pence spoke before the pool arrived and we did not hear him.
“Boos” at the mention of “Barack Hussein Obama” in a riff about Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nominations. Cheers, when he says “we’re in the Oval Office and they’re not, and let’s keep it that way.”
He’s still talking at 10 pm, 50 minutes in, but we’ve been warned we’re getting close to wrapping up.
Winding down shortly after 10 pm, POTUS told the crowd “I love you people but I’ve been doing this since early in the morning. I’m getting the hell out of here.” The crowd cheered and clapped.
He’s working so hard compared to Biden, he said, he’ll be embarrassed if he loses.
Finished speaking at 10:12. Huge cheers. Heart pounding blast of Village People YMCA. POTUS spoke just over an hour. He clapped and waved and strode to the plane. Saluted. Walked to the top. Turned and waved, getting one more big roar from the crowd. Ducked inside at 10:15.
Next stop JBA.
The slightly diminutive Air Force One touched down at Joint Base Andrews at 10:56 pm after a short and uneventful flight from Newport News, Va.
The plane came to a stop at 11:01.
It is raining steadily.
POTUS exited Air Force One in a steady rain at 11:07 pm holding an umbrella. He gave a quick wave to the pool sheltering under the wing and kept walking, boarding Marine One a minute later. Aides followed.
Rotors whirled at 11:10 and the chopper drove off and then was wheels up.
As the pool was exiting at the rear door of Air Force One, he had a very brief chat with Jason Miller, asking if the campaign is really making a play for Virginia.
“You never know,” he said.
Handing off to the intown pool.