MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CN) – Amid an impending Senate impeachment trial and heightened tensions with Iran, President Donald Trump was in his element Tuesday night in a packed Wisconsin arena where he rallied thousands of rapt supporters.
During the latest stop on his Keep America Great tour to drum up support for his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump briefly acknowledged the state’s dairy farmers, which have struggled in recent years.
Beset by plummeting milk prices and tariffs, more than 500 dairy farms in the state have folded each year since 2015.
But Trump told the crowd that his trade policies, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – a replacement to the North American Free Trade Agreement – and an in-progress trade deal with China were “a giant victory for Wisconsin workers, farmers and dairy producers.”
After this first and only mention of dairy farmers Tuesday evening, Trump moved onto discuss the U.S. military, which he said he had completely rebuilt.
He touted the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in “a daring nighttime raid” which contributed to what the president declared the end of ISIS now that “the caliphate is 100% destroyed.”
The president also championed the “bold and decisive action … which killed the world’s number one terrorist” Qasem Soleimani, a prominent Iranian military commander whom Trump said “was actively planning new attacks on Americans.”
Referencing terrorist attacks masterminded by Soleimani over the years, Trump said that “a great many people don’t have legs and don’t have arms because of this son of a bitch,” and questioned why Democratic politicians have largely condemned the operation that killed the Iranian military leader as risky and beyond the president’s war powers.
Senate Democrats intimated Tuesday that they have the votes to carry out a measure to limit Trump’s military power.
The Milwaukee crowd erupted as Trump segued to one of his longtime talking points: Benghazi.
Outlining the brief siege of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad over New Year’s Eve, Trump said he ordered immediate retaliation “because we don’t want another Benghazi,” referring to the 2012 coordinated attack against two U.S. facilities in Libya for which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is routinely blamed by Trump and his supporters.
Although Wisconsin is about 1,400 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border, the crowd was rapturous when Trump boasted about the border wall his administration is building.
“We’re building a wall, you know that right?” Trump said, telling the crowd that 100 miles of the wall is already built and 400 total miles will be built by the end of next year before repeating his oft-disputed claim that Mexico will ultimately pay for the wall.
The Mexican government for its part has repeatedly and unequivocally stated it will not do so.
Trump also defended himself against what he described as a “hoax impeachment” brought on by his “perfect phone call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he attempted to get Ukraine to conduct an investigation into Hunter Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden, allegedly in exchange for millions in aid.
Trump rounded out his 90-minute speech by listing what he considers to be the accomplishments of his presidency, including a booming stock market, record unemployment, tax cuts, moves against energy efficient products and environmentalism and undoing the policies of former President Barack Obama, whom Trump referred to with his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
After celebrating his work overhauling the nation’s judiciary with more than 180 appointments at all levels, Trump stumped for conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who is up for reelection on April 7.
Trump said Democrats stand for “crime, corruption and chaos,” and Republicans stand for “law, order and justice.”
The crowd roared when Trump called his presidency “the greatest movement in the history of our country.”
“We are going to keep winning, winning, winning,” Trump exclaimed. “The best is yet to come.”
The event was held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena, one block south of where the Democratic National Convention will be held at the Fiserv Forum July 13-16.
Trump narrowly won the Badger State in 2016 with fewer than 25,000 votes over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Before Trump took to the stage, each speaker stressed the importance of tallying Wisconsin as a win on the road to Trump’s reelection, emphasizing a strong ground game and adherence to the policies that got Trump into office in the first place.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, an enthusiastic supporter of the president, spoke early in the evening and warned of the Democratic party’s agenda.
“This country is at a defining moment,” Johnson said. “The Democrats are no longer Democrats, they are socialists.”
The specter of socialist policies touted by progressive liberals became something of a refrain throughout the night.
Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale mentioned the Democratic debate being held concurrently with Trump’s rally, drawing a volley of boos from the sold-out arena.
“We’ve got the Democrats in Iowa having their socialist debate,” Parscale said. “They want to take away your guns, take away your health care, they want to put you in bread lines.”
Vice President Mike Pence was the first speaker to mention the looming “sham impeachment” of the president. The House of Representatives is expected to send articles of impeachment to the Senate Wednesday, where a trial is slated to begin Jan. 21.
Pence painted the impeachment as a partisan effort to get rid of Trump.
“Democrats are trying to run down this president because they know they can’t run against this president,” he said.
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