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Trump says military "bigger, better, stronger" at USS Gerald R. Ford commissioning

Last Updated Jul 22, 2017 2:27 PM EDT

President Trump officially commissioned the U.S. Navy's newest and largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, applauding the military's strength.

"When it comes to battle, we don't want a fair fight. We demand victory and we will have total victory, believe me," Mr. Trump said of the powerful aircraft carrier. 

"American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world," he added. "America's might is second to none."

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President Trump (C) is welcomed aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford in Norfolk, Virginia, on July 22, 2017.

Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images

Mr. Trump also used the event to reflect on military spending, highlighting his administration's work in increasing the defense budget. 

"You are fulfilling your duty to this nation and now it is our job of the government to fulfill its duty to you," said Mr. Trump.

"It's been a very, very bad period of time for our military, that is why were reached a deal to secure additional $20 billion for defense this year and it's going up and why I ask Congress for another $54 billion for next year," said Mr. Trump. "Now we need Congress to do its job and pass the budget that provides for higher stable and predictable funding levels for our military needs that our fighting men and women deserve, and you will get, believe me."  

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In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is seen underway on its own power for the first time on April 8, 2017 in Newport News, Virginia. 

U.S. Navy / Getty Images

While Mr. Trump urged military members to call their members of Congress and ask them to support his budget, he noted the ongoing health care debate as well, telling service members, "you can also call those Senators to make sure you get health care."

Mr. Trump's speech comes just one day after a major staff shake-up within the White House communications department, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigning and Sarah Huckabee Sanders promoted.

Spicer announced his resignation after Mr. Trump selected Anthony Scaramucci to be his new communications director, a decision that factored into Spicer's decision to leave, CBS News confirmed.

Mr. Trump has previously visited the aircraft carrier, where he announced his plans to increase military spending dramatically. 

"We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war," Mr. Trump said in March. "... And if required, to fight war ... and only do one thing -- you know what that is? Win, Win! We're going to start winning again."

See live updates the speech below


Trump orders raising of the flag

With a salute, the American flag officially flies over the newly commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford

Captain Richard McCormack formally takes over the helm of the warship. 

Susan Ford gives orders for the USS Gerald R. Ford

"No one who would be prouder of commissioning than the president of the United States, Gerald R Ford. On behalf of the 38th president and as your ship's sponsor, I am honored to give the command," said Ford's daughter. 

"Officers and crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford, man our ship and bring her to life!" Ford commands, officially setting the warship on its path to sea. 

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President Trump walks to the podium to speak during the the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Saturday, July, 22, 2017.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Trump officially places USS Gerald R. Ford in commission

"May God bless and guide this war ship and all who shall sail in her."

Trump: "You are embarking on a truly great adventure"

"The sea holds many challenges and threats, but starting today you will face together as a team, aboard this ship which is your responsibility and home, three generations of Americans will eventually man these decks," said Mr. Trump of the ship's longevity and legacy. 

He adds, "To every patriot who will serve on this ship, today and throughout history, I say this, keep the watch, protect her, defend her and love her, good luck and godspeed."

Trump talks military funding

"You are fulling your duty to this nation and now it is our job of the government to fulfill its duty to you," said Mr. Trump of defense funding. 

"It's been a very, very bad period of time for our military, that is why were reached a deal to secure additional $20 billion for defense this year and it's going up and why I ask Congress for another $54 billion for next year," said Mr. Trump. "Now we need congress to do its job and pass the budget that provides for higher stable and predictable funding levels for our military needs that our fighting men and women deserve, and you will get, believe me."

Mr. Trump urges military members to call their members of Congress, adding that "you can also call those senators to make sure you get health care."

Trump: "A ship is only as good as the people who sail it"

"We love you, we are proud of you thank you," Mr. Trump says of the sailors who will man the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Mr. Trump recalls Ford's Naval career, saying "he saw a lot of action in the Pacific war." He adds, "With this ship we honor him with his lifetime of selfless and distinguished service."

"If he could see this ship today, he'd see his legacy of service carried on by each and every one of you," Mr. Trump said. 

Mr. Trump calls former first lady Betty Ford "a great woman."

Trump: "We will win, win win, we will never lose"

"When it comes to battle we don't want a fair fight. We demand victory and we will have total victory, believe me," Mr. Trump says of the powerful aircraft carrier. 

Trump: "We're getting bigger, better and stronger every day"

"Your incredible work of art becomes the pride of the U.S. Navy and symbol of american pride and prestige no matter where in the world you go," Mr. Trump says. 

He adds, "American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000 ton message to the world. America's might is second to none."

Trump: "I knew I had to be here today" 

"After today where this ship sails, you will all carry a proud title -- plank owner of the USS Gerald R. Ford," Mr. Trump says of what he called an "incredible achievement" in building the Navy's latest and largest ship.

Trump thanks Vice President Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for their support. "They look great!" Mr. Trump remarks. 

McAuliffe to Trump: "You are here in the greatest state"

"We are great because of the 9,000 shipbuilders who made this possible today," McAuliffe says of the massive undertaking of the latest aircraft carrier. The governor tells Mr. Trump to "keep investing" and to "put all military contracts" into the commonwealth. "We'll deliver on time and ahead of budget," he added. 

21-gun salute as Trump arrives to USS Gerald R. Ford

President Trump officially arrives to the commissioning ceremony after a slight delay in schedule. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe are also in attendance. 

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital