LOUISVILLE, Ky. — President Donald Trump delivered a rollicking populist and nationalist appeal on Monday, promising to renegotiate trade agreements, clamp down on illegal immigration and keep terrorists out of the country — all in the service of putting “America first.”
In a speech that drew deeply on the core themes of Trump’s 2016 campaign, the president promised to pass the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But he presented it largely as a necessity to finance tax cuts. “We have to get this done to do the other,” Trump declared.
The president made clear that the current health care legislation would have to be changed to make it through Congress. But he appeared unconcerned about the ultimate outcome. “We’re going to negotiate; it’s going to go back and forth,” Trump said. “In the end, it’s going to be great.”
For Trump, who is enduring one of the most difficult stretches of his young presidency, the rally was a chance to bathe in the adulation of a campaign crowd, a sea of people waving placards that said, “Buy American. Hire American” and “Promises Made. Promises Kept.”
He appeared in Louisville after leaving Washington, if only for a few hours, at the end of a tumultuous day that showcased the perils and promise of his presidency. In the House, lawmakers grilled FBI Director James B. Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump conspicuously avoided any mention of Russia during his speech.
And in the Senate, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil M. Gorsuch, introduced himself in what will be several days of confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee.
In Kentucky, the president said he would renegotiate trade deals to bring jobs and factories back to the United States. The nation has lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, he said.
This was third speech of Trump’s presidency that had an explicitly political theme, drawing on his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It had originally been conceived as a rally with supporters in a state where a Republican senator, Rand Paul, has expressed opposition to the Republican health care legislation, which Trump is backing.