The panel on CNN's New Day Monday morning did not seem that impressed with President Trump's campaign-style rally over the weekend. They seemed the most triggered by the President's proposal to impose the death penalty on drug dealers; arguing that such a proposal makes it crystal clear that he has a tendency toward authoritarianism. According to David Gregory, "thinking people of all stripes in this country are going to have to wonder why the President is so enamored of and flirts with autocrats around the world."
The President held the rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on Saturday, encouraging the crowd to support Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate for the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, taking place tomorrow. New Day played some clips from the rally, where President Trump took shots at “Sleepy Eyes” Chuck Todd, Oprah, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, and Elizabeth Warren. He also branded the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb with the nickname “Lamb the Sham”, arguing that Lamb may seem sympathetic to some of the President’s ideas right now but as soon as he gets in office, he will start voting the party line.
Panelist John Avlon weighed in on the rally, comparing the President to P.T. Barnum and describing his comments at the rally as “fundamentally not presidential if you believe that presidential offices are designed to try to unite the nation.” Avlon also referred to President Trump as “someone who’s violating the core trust of being President, particularly when he goes after the press in those rallies.”
The President also announced his re-election slogan of “Keep America Great!” and Cuomo took a shot at Trump’s 2016 catchphrase of “Make America Great Again”, saying that it “was always a call to go back to times when you didn’t have the kind of progress you have, you didn’t have the inclusiveness you have, things were simpler and harsher.” The anchor asserted that the slogan ended up “waking up this part of the Republican base that hadn’t been that active before”, recycling the well-worn left-wing talking point that the President’s campaign was based on racial hatred and white supremacy.
Perhaps the part of the speech the CNN talking heads objected to most was when the President suggested imposing the death penalty on drug dealers in an effort to solve America’s massive drug epidemic. Panelist David Gregory warned of creeping totalitarianism, saying “more thinking people of all stripes in this country are going to have to wonder why the President is so enamored of and flirts with autocrats around the world.”
The media and the left object to the President’s use of rallies and Twitter to communicate with the American people partly because they just don’t like him and also because it allows him to get his message across without having to rely on the “legacy media”, who will surely distort his message in the most negative possible light.
CNN New Day
CHRIS CUOMO: All right. The stakes are high for both parties practically and in terms of optics when it comes to this special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. The President knows this; that’s why he went there this weekend to campaign for the Republican candidate and have this big rally. Here’s the President using the rally to hit his political opponents. Listen.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m on “Meet the Press”, a show now headed by “Sleepy Eyes” Chuck Todd, he’s a sleeping son of a bitch, I’ll tell you. Arnold Schwarzenegger failed when he did “The Apprentice” and he’s a movie star. Martha Stewart failed when she did “The Apprentice” and I just kept chugging along; every year it was a big hit. Can you imagine covering Bernie or Pocahontas? Pocahontas, how about that? Wouldn’t we love to run against Oprah? I would love it. I would love it. That would be a painful experience for her. Maxine Waters, a very low IQ individual. Conor Lamb, Lamb the sham, right? Lamb the Sham. Is there any more fun than at a Trump rally?
CUOMO: Of course you don’t hear the name Rick Saccone in there anywhere, who is the guy who’s running for office in the 18th District.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: But you know, those also weren’t just his political opponents. I mean that was Chuck Todd, that was Oprah, that was Martha Stewart.
CUOMO: Those are his political opponents.
CAMEROTA: They don’t think they are.
CUOMO: It doesn’t matter what you think.
CAMEROTA: They think they’re journalists and TV personalities. They don’t call themselves political opponents.
CUOMO: But this is what he does. He says the media is his enemy. He was preaching to the converted there. They cheered for every one of those things.
CAMEROTA: It’s who he thinks are his opponents but I don’t know that we should call them political opponents.
CUOMO: And the people behind him. Call them whatever you want. The point is he went down there and he had a very clear understanding of what he wanted to do, David. This is about him. He said it’s “Keep America Great Again.” That’s the slogan for the next election. His battle is the same though, brother. I remember you saying this about three weeks into the administration. All right. We know where he is. Will he grow? If he grows, he wins again. If he doesn’t grow, he’s going to be dogged from midterm into general. Where is he?
DAVID GREGORY: Well, I mean, he’s, I don’t think he has grown. I mean, I think he’s got areas that he’ll point to that his core supporters will applaud, these tariffs going into steel country, applauding the tariffs. Whether they actually end up helping the people that he’s trying to help may be a different matter. They may view him as trying. You know, I think there’s a, he uses his attacks on popular culture, on media, this populism, to great effect and it’s not about results. It’s about here’s a guy from the outside who’s still fighting the fight against these people. And it’s a sham, you know, because he’s now the President and he says we shouldn’t have blue ribbon commissions, even after he just signed off on one. But he wants to run as a kind of the permanent outside of the permanent populist. And the question will be whether both core supporters, more independent-minded voters and those who were opposed to Hillary Clinton still look at him and say, okay, this was charming but he shook things up but now where are we? And that’s going to be the tough verdict I think.
CAMEROTA: Also just the style of the rapid-fire succession of insults of anybody, sort of within range. You know, I don’t know, I mean, I guess, obviously, it worked on the campaign trail. I don’t know if it has the same effect when you’re President.
JOHN AVLON: Look, this is President as P.T. Barnum. This is his comfort zone. He is at a rally and it’s a tribal rally. This is, he is surrounded by people who love him and he feeds off that adulation. And he’s attacking anyone who’s outside the tribe. But it’s fundamentally not Presidential if you believe that Presidential offices are designed to try to unite the nation. That’s not what this President is interested in. He’s also interested in being a performer and entertainer. He’s on a traveling medicine show. But there’s when you start, you know, attacking all your opponents for the slightest slight, if you start saying that, you know, you’re a fighter not a lover and therefore you’re, you know, that’s why your President and that’s the heart of your appeal. This is someone who’s violating the core trust of being President, particularly when he goes after the press in those rallies.
CUOMO: Look, the people decides. Make America Great Again was always a call to go back to times when you didn’t have the kind of progress you have, you didn’t have the inclusiveness you have, things were simpler and harsher. That’s what it was. That’s why it wound up waking up this part of the Republican base that hadn’t been that active before. He’s going to double down on that because that’s what he does. Want some proof? Listen to what he said about the answer is to dealing with drug dealers. Listen to this.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness. When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said “Mr. President, do you have a drug problem?” No, no, no, we do not. I said “What do you attribute that to?” Well, the death penalty. I think it’s a discussion we have to start thinking about, don’t you? I don’t know if you’re ready.
CAMEROTA: And that discussion is that we’re going to what?
CUOMO: Kill drug dealers, assassinate...
CAMEROTA: Drug dealers or drug users?
CUOMO: Drug dealers.
CAMEROTA: Oh, just drug dealers.
AVLON: This is the Duterte Admiration Society.
CUOMO: In Singapore, they talked about...I think it’s a really, really good one for people out there. The left, you know where they’ll be on it, the right, I don’t know who the people in that crowd reflect. But the independent voters, David, at some point to Alisyn’s point somewhat, they’re going to wake up and say “Wait a minute. Did he just say we should kill people who deal drugs?” That’s what we do in this country? And that harshness is what worked. When are we going to learn that rule, that harshness hasn’t worked? You go anywhere in the world and you see that harshness guarantees that you have a drug problem, unless you’re in an autocratic state where you can kill everybody for no reason. Singapore is, you know, they’ll beat you with a stick when you spit there. We remember that case, about the kid and the subways and the graffiti. What I’m saying is this, it works for his base. He’s going to have to make a calculation in this midterm. His party’s going to have to start echoing it or stepping sideways. Which do you think is more likely?
GREGORY: Well, first of all, what voters are going to hear over and over and over again, they’re less likely to hear that he, you know, he wants to pick up his Neanderthal club and beat drug dealers to death. They’re more likely to hear well, what has he done for the economy? And is it doing any better? What’s the, what are the markets doing? Are there more jobs? Do I have a chance? You know, is unemployment down? You know, those are the things that I think he offered the promise on, but these divisive elements, this idea of, you know, exacerbating the divisions in the country, especially social divisions. There’s a lot of what he says that will make people feel good. And they won’t focus on yeah, yeah, yeah but how are you going to do that? That makes no sense. It defies common sense. It defies precedent, it’s just like yeah, here’s a guy who’s willing to say that we should use the death penalty on drug dealers to deal with our problem. Now, more thinking people of all stripes in this country are going to have to wonder why the President is so enamored of and flirts with autocrats around the world. You got to really sit with that and ask if that’s what you want for the country.