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Trump makes campaign-style pitch to veterans in Kansas City

Last Updated Jul 24, 2018 5:30 PM EDT

President Trump's address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City often resembled a campaign rally on Tuesday. Mr. Trump used the speech to touch on some of his favorite topics, including illegal immigration, Democrats, the "fake news" media, and unfair trade deals. 

Mr. Trump mentioned Robert Wilkie, the Senate-confirmed Trump nominee to run Veterans Affairs who was present at the speech, but quickly pivoted to the 2020 presidential race, saying everyone who voted against Wilkie are the "super lefts" who will run against him in two years. 

Mr. Trump didn't invite Wilkie on stage, but he did invite up Missouri's GOP Senate candidate Joshua Hawley, who spoke glowingly of Mr. Trump before handing back the podium. Later in his speech, Mr. Trump blasted Missouri's vulnerable Democratic Sen. Clare McCaskill, and called out "low IQ person" Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who is fiercely critical of the president. 

Mr. Trump also used much of his speech to defend his administration's stance on tariffs, even as the administration looks to spend $12 billion on subsidies to farmers caught in the crosshairs of a trade war. Mr. Trump told the veterans that farmers will be the greatest beneficiaries of tariffs. Mr. Trump, decrying the "crap" from the "fake news" media, said the crowd shouldn't believe the negative news they read and hear about tariffs, even as members of the president's own party are speaking out against them.

"What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening," he said.

Later on Tuesday, the VFW issued a statement saying the organization was "disappointed" by some members who booed the press, saying the organization relies on the media to disseminate their message. 

The president did touch on some veteran-specific issues, particularly emphasizing how his administration is building up the national defense. Mr. Trump said the remains of veterans from the Korean War will be brought home soon, after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month.

"I said I would really appreciate if you could do that. He said it will be done. So I was very happy and I think that process is starting fairly soon, we hope," Mr. Trump said.

Back in Washington, Mr. Trump continues to face criticism, as he defends his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the escalating trade war with foreign countries. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.