MICHAEL RUSSELL

Opinion: Four takeaways from Trump’s rally speech in Phoenix

Aug 23, 2017, 12:15 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, ...

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Now that the tear gas and smoke bombs have cleared in downtown Phoenix, I think there are a few solid takeaways from the president’s visit and speech Tuesday night.

The wall

I think President Donald Trump missed a huge opportunity to further his cause of building a border wall.

He mentioned the wall in his speech. He even threatened to shut Congress down in order to prove his point that he will not relent on constructing the wall.

But if you remember, Trump was supposed to visit the border on Tuesday. That visit was removed from the calendar as he was landing in Yuma.

The Secret Service said it was their call, claiming the border was unsafe for the president.

I can’t think of a better opportunity for Trump to talk about the violence that he claims is raging on our southern borders than to tell the nation that he couldn’t visit because it was deemed too dangerous by those sworn to protect him.

It was a missed opportunity.

The media

In Trump’s speech, he took direct aim at not only what he calls the dishonest media, he went after specific organizations by name.

This is when Trump abandoned his teleprompters. You can always tell when he goes off-script as he stops looking from side to side and spouts gems such as, “I can tell you that much” or “Just so you know.”

Trump was unhinged.

This, of course, was at a campaign-funded event, so it’s not surprising that Trump used this tactic to rally his base.

If we have only learned one thing from Trump, it is that he is a master when it comes to media hype. He is a Jedi at dominating the news cycle.

As an example, he took on CNN. I can assure you that there will be very little or no coverage of North Korea or Charlottesville on CNN on Wednesday.

Their new story will be attacking the president. Trump knew that this would happen. That’s why he fired first.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The White House on Tuesday took an official position that Trump would not pardon former Arpiao at the Phoenix rally.

The statement held, but I had my doubts. The president was off-script, off teleprompter and unhinged. He could not help himself but to bring up Arpaio:

“You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, OK? But I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” the president said. “But sheriff Joe should feel good.”

This is crazy but not surprising at all. For those that are happy about the president’s prediction, you obviously think Arpaio is above the law. Or maybe you think that all of his good deeds outweigh the bad.

If you are upset about this, breathe easy. Arpaio was most likely never going to see the inside of a jail cell. He’s too old and deals would have been made.

It’s all politics and optics.

Our senators

Tuesday’s speech probably gave Sen. Jeff Flake a few reasons to lose some sleep.

Dr. Kelli Ward was in the house and Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit was actually given the podium! Ward is running against Flake while DeWit still could enter the race.

Now that I am learning to speak fluent Trump, I can tell you this was a clear signal that he will put the full weight of the presidency behind one of these two individuals as they take on Flake in next year’s primary.

Then it was Sen. John McCain that was called out by the president. Well, not by name. I was waiting for him to say, “I won’t say his name, but it rhymes with Don McLane.”

He called McCain when maligning the Senate’s failure to pass the a measure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

McCain was the no vote that sunk the proposed legislation. Several times, the president shouted that the legislation needed “one more vote” to pass.

To Trump loyalists, McCain might become known as John “One More Vote” McCain.

Michael Russell

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Opinion: Four takeaways from Trump’s rally speech in Phoenix