The silence in the room of pro-military tank plant workers was palpable Wednesday as President Trump turned a speech meant to be about the military and manufacturing into an opportunity to eviscerate the late decorated veteran Sen. John McCain.
Unprompted, the president blamed McCain for a failed Obamacare repeal vote and for the unproven dossier alleging ties between Mr. Trump and Russia, as he has on Twitter and in remarks over the last few days. But he stepped up those attacks in his speech Wednesday.
"I endorsed him at his request," Mr. Trump said. "And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. Which as President, I had to approve. I don't care about this - I didn't get thank you. That's OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain."
Mr. Trump spoke at the plant after the Army announced earlier in the year it would spent $714 million to upgrade the M1A1 Abrams at the plant, owned by General Dynamics. The White House has said the infusion of spending will support more than 1,000 jobs. Defense cuts five years ago nearly caused the plant to shut down. It is considered America's last tank factory.
In his remarks, the president reiterated his earlier declaration that ISIS will be "gone by tonight." The president held up two maps he had shown to reporters earlier at the White House, one of which he said was from Election Night, and the other representing the current status of the caliphate.
Recently, the president pressured U.S. auto giant General Motors to reopen a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that closed earlier this month. Mr. Trump has been berating GM over Twitter and pressuring CEO Mary Barra to take action.
He continued that barrage in Wednesday's speech, imploring GM to "get that plant open, or sell it to somebody and they'll open it."
Mr. Trump is also in Ohio for a country club fundraiser.
Trump arrives at his fundraiser
Mr. Trump has arrived at the Brookside Country Club, where he will hold a roundtable with reporters ahead of a dinner. The president, who filed for reelection on Inauguration Day, has already raised tens of millions of dollars for his reelection effort.
Outside the country club were a smattering of protesters as the president motorcaded in. "Trump for Prison 2020," one sign read.
Trump ignores question about John McCain
As the president's Ohio trip continued, a reporter shouted as he reached for the door of his motorcade, "Why do you keep attacking John McCain?"
The president declined to answer, saying only, "Thank you."
Mr. Trump is en route to his fundraiser.
Trump says U.S. has killed key terrorists
Mr. Trump told the audience he learned only moments before that terrorists responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Syria, as well as other incidents, have been killed.
Trump eviscerates the late John McCain
Mr. Trump launched into an unprompted evisceration of the late Sen. John McCain, blasting the late war veteran for his vote on repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Then the president said he gave McCain the funeral McCain would have wanted, but he never got a thank you for it.
"I endorsed him at his request," Mr. Trump said. "And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. Which as President, I had to approve. I don't care about this -- I didn't get thank you. That's OK. We sent him on the way but I wasn't a fan of John McCain."
"So now what we could say is now, we're all set, I don't think I have to answer that question but the press keeps -- 'what do you think of McCain? What do you think?' Not my kind of guy, but some people like him and I think that's great."
Trump tells audience at plant they'd better love him
Mr. Trump opened his remarks by telling his audience they'd better love him, since he kept their plant open.
"You'd better love me, I kept this place open," the president told the crowd.
Trump is wheels down in Ohio
Air Force One touched down in Ohio at roughly 2:20 p.m. ET.
Fundraiser attendees can pay $15,000 for a picture with Trump
People who attend Wednesday night's fundraiser can get their picture with the president -- for $15,000, according to the invitation reviewed by the White House television pooler.
Dinner costs $50,000 a person or $70,000 for a couple. Entrance to the fundraiser costs $2,800.
Trump insults George Conway again
The last few days, the president has spent some of his time attacking the late Sen. John McCain -- "I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be" -- and George Conway, the husband of his top aide Kellyanne Conway who has repeatedly criticized the president's mental fitness on Twitter.
"George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife's success & angry that I, with her help, didn't give him the job he so desperately wanted," Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!"
Mr. Trump, asked about Conway Wednesday, criticized him again, calling him wacky.
Trump claims he told Mueller he wouldn't be FBI director
Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn, claimed he told Mueller he wouldn't be the FBI director.
Trump talks Mueller report, ISIS on departure
"Let it come out, let people see it. That's up to the attorney general," Mr. Trump told reporters when asked if the impending report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation would be made public.
"I want to see the report," he added, saying that he "looked forward" to its release.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump took credit for the driving out of the Islamic State group in Syria, using visual diagrams comparing ISIS territories currently in the region compared to that when he took office.
Trump has a fundraising head start
Mr. Trump already has a fundraising head start going into the 2020 election cycle. His campaign has raised more than $130 million since he became president.
Mr. Trump has expressed confidence that he can beat whomever the Democrats choose from their primary process.
"Whoever it is, I'll take him or her on," Mr. Trump told reporters earlier this month.
Trump hitting the campaign trail starting next week
The president, after largely taking a break from political travel since the midterms, will rally supporters in Michigan next week.
Mr. Trump is holding a "Make America Great Again" rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 28. There, he'll emphasize manufacturing as a part of his agenda.
At the same time, he's likely to attack what his campaign considers to be "radical socialist" policies embraced by Democrats.
"While President Trump has made good on his promises to American workers, 2020 Democrats are embracing radical socialist policies like the Green New Deal, which would raise taxes on all Americans and is opposed by the AFL-CIO because it would harm millions of its members and threaten their jobs," Michael Glassner, CEO of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., said in a statement. "While Democrat proposals would cause irreparable harm to the American economy, President Trump has added hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in just two years, a drastic change from Obama's disastrous two terms."