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Trump speaks in Pennsylvania

Last Updated Jan 18, 2018 6:23 PM EST

President Trump spoke in the Pittsburgh area Thursday, in what was originally billed as a campaign stop but what the White House later said was a speech to tout the benefits of tax reform.

Mr. Trump initially said he was traveling to Pennsylvania to campaign for Rick Saccone, a current member of Pennsylvania's statehouse who is running in a special congressional election in Pennsylvania. That open seat was vacated by former GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, a vocal opponent of abortion who resigned after he reportedly asked a women he had an affair with to have an abortion.

But on Thursday morning, the White House issued a statement saying the purpose of the president's visit was to talk up the benefits of tax reform, seeming to contradict the president.

"The president is enthusiastic about today's trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving for the American people," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "While the president has made clear his support for Republican candidates throughout the country, including in Pennsylvania, the purpose of today's visit is to promote the president's successful agenda especially on taxes."

In Pennsylvania, the president told reporters he supports Saccone, but the topic at hand was tax reform.

The president's actual speech, however, touched on everything from his 2016 election win, the "deplorables" comment his former opponent Hillary Clinton made during the campaign to characterize Trump supporters, and how "nasty" Washington, D.C. is. 

"It's a nasty place, woooo," Mr. Trump said, adding that it's getting better.

He did, of course, also mention tax reform, and the benefits it has wrought, according to Mr. Trump.

"It's the economy, stupid! Did you ever hear that one?" the president said, borrowing a phrase from one of Bill Clinton's old strategists.

Mr. Trump also brought his daughter and aide Ivanka Trump on stage, asking her to tout the benefits of doubling the child tax credit. "Thank you, baby," the president told his 36-year-old elder daughter as she left the stage.

Meanwhile, Congress has barely 24 hours to reach a spending deal to avoid a government shutdown. Speaking to reporters while on a factory tour before his remarks, Mr. Trump suggested Democrats want a shutdown "to get off the subject of the tax cuts."