Pres. Trump celebrates 100th day with Harrisburg rally
President Donald Trump returned to Harrisburg on Saturday night to ring in his 100th day in office with Keystone State voters who helped deliver him the White House in November.
“There is no place I’d rather be than right here in Pennsylvania to celebrate our 100-day milestone, to reflect on an incredible journey together and get ready for the great, great battles to come — and that we will win in every way,” Trump told the 7,000-plus supporters and handfuls of protesters at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
In his hourlong speech at the center’s New Holland Arena, Trump hit several familiar notes, spending at least 15 minutes bashing the “failing” and “unfair” media, while calling for swift action on immigration and health care and boasting of his crowd size.
“We broke the all-time record for this arena,” Trump said, although seats in the top tier never filled. “We broke the all-time record — and I don’t have a guitar, which is pretty tough.”
Trump touted his foreign policy work in his first 100 days, saying his administration has already strengthened the United States’ relationships with many of its allies around the world.
All eyes are on North Korea after increasingly frequent reports of failed missile launches, and Trump said he has built a good relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping that could see the two global superpowers work together to deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We have somebody there who’s causing a lot of trouble for the world. China is really trying to help us,” Trump said, citing reports that China is sending back “vast amounts of coal coming out of North Korea.”
Press club snub: While the media elite gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Trump flew out to be with thousands of supporters who came from across the Keystone State to see the 45th president of the United States.
“A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” Trump said of the annual dinner.
“They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — without the president,” Trump said. “And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington Swamp, spending my evening with all of you, and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”
Trump went on the offensive against “fake news outlets” CNN and MSNBC and told his supporters not to trust the media's perspective of the world.
“The Washington media is part of the problem,” Trump said. “Their priorities are not my priorities, and they’re not your priorities. Their agenda is not your agenda.”
Trump cited a poll from Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica that said 89 percent of news coverage of his administration is “negative and purposefully negative” and a second poll that showed 96 percent of mainstream media executives who contributed to presidential campaigns donated to his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.
Those comments set off one of many “Lock her up” chants heard Saturday night, a chant that also rang out while U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, made his opening remarks before Trump took the stage.
Perry fondly recalled his election night memories for the decidedly pro-Trump crowd and said he thanks God “every day Donald J. Trump is the president of the United States.”
Perry said he was speaking to a local contractors’ union recently and was able to promise them that business will again be good.
“I hope you got the people, because Donald Trump is the president and work is coming,” Perry said.
Trump came to Pennsylvania on his 100th day in office to serve as a “reminder” for the people and for legislators, Perry said.
“A reminder that we don’t take orders from Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “Washington, D.C., takes orders from us.”
Protesters: Protesters, including a man who threw numerous miniature Russian flags in the air, were escorted away by police and Trump supporters throughout the night.
“Do we love our law enforcement or what?” Trump said after a handful of police officers dragged the man with Russian flags off the floor and the “U-S-A” chants subsided.
Neil Makhija, a Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Carbon County in 2016, was cornered by multiple Trump supporters near the media area and was helped through the crowds by police officers.
Makhija said he spoke to officers about the "violent Trump supporters" and then returned for the rest of Trump's rally.
Trump “and I shared 1,600 voters so I never believed caricatures of his supporters,” Makhija wrote on Twitter after the event. “Disappointed tonight. Sad state of Democracy.”
Counter-rallies: Before the president took the stage, liberal groups from across the region held demonstrations, marches and counter-rallies near the Farm Show Complex.
Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, joined Democratic National Committee Vice Chairman Michael Blake, Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse and others at a Pennsylvania Democratic Party resistance rally across the street from the complex.
Baker said he was speaking at the rally because he was “ready to hold Donald Trump accountable for the last 100 days and for the rest of his administration.”
“During the campaign, and even tonight, he’s going to tell you he’s promising to ‘make America great again,’” Baker said. “And I can tell you, the only thing Donald Trump has made great again is 'Saturday Night Live.'”
Baker said the president has ignored his own calls to “drain the swamp," and Baker said there needs to be more federal funding for public education and job-creation programs to help countless rural communities such as those in York County.
Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, speaks at a Pennsylvania Democratic Party counter-rally against President Donald Trump outside the Harrisburg Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. Saturday, April 29, 2017. Jason Addy video.
“Donald Trump campaigned and won Pennsylvania by convincing the lower and middle classes that he would be their advocate,” Baker said. “Instead, he has loaded his Cabinet with millionaires and billionaires who oppose raising the minimum wage, they oppose funding public education, and they are against policies that would help Pennsylvanians who work tirelessly day in and day out to get by.”
Many of the speakers at the counter-rally, including Baker, referenced Trump’s August 2016 comments in which he said Harrisburg looked like a “war zone,” while Papenfuse and Leach both tried out their best Trump impersonations.
“Mr. President, you should be ashamed of how you manipulated the people of Pennsylvania, and the nation, who voted for you, and how you’ve done more harm than good in your first 100 days,” Baker said. “My name is Chad Baker. I am one of thousands of unpaid demonstrators who promise to expose the president for his true self. As a brother, a husband and most importantly a father, I demand better for our state, for our nation, for our kids.”