President Trump visited West Virginia — the state that voted for him by the largest in 2016 — Thursday in what was billed as a tax reform roundtable. White House officials told CBS News' Jacqueline Alemany that the event was actually supposed to hit Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Va., but the afternoon transformed into a rant on illegal immigration.
Mr. Trump, in his first few minutes of speaking, bashed Manchin for voting against the GOP tax overhaul. "He votes against everything and he voted against our tax cuts," Mr. Trump said, saying they will soon have a chance to have a senator who will vote for "our program." Vice President Mike Pence -- in words uncharacteristically harsh for the even-tempered vice president -- railed against Manchin when he was in the state for a GOP conference earlier this year.
But Mr. Trump spent much of his remarks bashing illegal immigration, blaming it for excessive crime in the U.S.
"We cannot let people enter our country. We have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from," Mr. Trump said. "We don't know if they are murderers, if they're killers, if they're MS-13."
He also lashed out about the caravan of immigrants coming through Mexico, which seemingly factored into his decision to sign a declaration sending the National Guard to protect the southern border. He even brought up his controversial comments from his 2015 presidential campaign launch, when he called some Mexican immigrants "rapist." On Thursday, Mr. Trump, without citing any statistics, said women are being "raped" like never before.
"Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower, when I opened," Mr. Trump said. "Everybody said 'oh, he was so tough.' And I used the word rape. And yesterday, it came out where this journey coming up — women are raped at levels that nobody's ever seen before. They don't want to mention that. So, we have to change our laws."
Mr. Trump's support in West Virginia was 61 percent in January -- higher than any other state, according to Gallup. Manchin, who is considered vulnerable to a Republican challenge in the deep red state, is running for re-election in November.
"I don't know if you know, but your state is doing very well," Mr. Trump said, in a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic where some -- but not enough -- coal jobs have been added.
for more features.