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At a Toast to Trump, the North Korean Anthem Has a Starring Role

WASHINGTON — The North Korean national anthem got plenty of fanfare at the Virginia Women for Trump’s birthday party for the president Sunday. Corey Stewart, the Republican Senate candidate from Virginia, got the hook.

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Elizabeth Williamson
, New York Times

WASHINGTON — The North Korean national anthem got plenty of fanfare at the Virginia Women for Trump’s birthday party for the president Sunday. Corey Stewart, the Republican Senate candidate from Virginia, got the hook.

The Tea for Trump toast to an absent President Donald Trump drew hundreds of women in hats, tats and floral finery to the Trump International Hotel for an afternoon of what Alice Butler-Short, the organization’s president, called “God, fashion and politics or God, politics and fashion, whichever.”

As part of the second annual event, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders received, in absentia, an award playing on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, the MAGA Woman of the Year, Butler-Short said.

In an interview before the event (and before Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant whose owner disagreed with Trump’s policies), Butler-Short said the award was presented “for grace under fire, because we feel that what happened to her at the correspondents’ dinner was so abusive.” At the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April, Sanders sat feet away from a comedian who took shots at her.

Butler-Short explained her group’s mission as “all about promoting unity — he’s the president for all Americans.” College students who don’t appreciate Trump “are spoiled brats,” she said. “They know nothing of life and nothing of respect for anyone. There is no place like the United States that offers opportunities to people.”

Asked about Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, which have dominated the news recently, she said, “I have a really nice house here and I’m really generous and I invite people in, but I won’t just throw open my door and say come in here and fill every bedroom.”

“These people are coming here for economic reasons,” she said. “They’re not coming because they’re afraid they’ll be strung up from a tree by their necks or taken out and shot.”

Trump “is not only trying to do the best for the country, he has real compassion,” Butler-Short said. “People need to back off and understand that.”

Trump, who turned 72 on June 14, was at one of his other properties — his Virginia golf course — on Sunday afternoon, but that hardly dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm.

The event kicked off with a prayer for the president: “We ask God for protection of this man” and “We lift him up, Lord, not that he is perfect.” Then it moved swiftly toward its centerpiece, a runway fashion show of the work of Andre Soriano, the designer shunned by the fashion world after he designed the “Make America Great Again” gown worn by singer Joy Villa to the 2017 Grammy Awards.

Female pro-Trump organizers and donors modeled some 50 gowns, which, like a fireworks display, grew shinier and more elaborate toward the finale, when a woman in a flowing, black and white, Asian-style costume appeared. As martial-sounding music played, she walked the runway with arms outstretched, carrying what looked like a red velvet and gilded Valentine’s Day candy box. The women cheered as she paused, lifting the box to the heavens.

Butler-Short took the stage, her substantial, bejeweled gold lamé millinery bobbing. “That signified our great president and the negotiations he is having with North Korea,” she said. The music, she explained, was the North Korean national anthem. Some time after that, the Deplorable Choir from Houston, three women in red dresses and fringed red cowboy boots, took the stage, saying, “We’ve been called every name in the book and we know that’s not true.” Their anthem for the women went like this:

“We love God and family, we support our troops through everything.

“We got Trump 2020 on the back of our pickup truck.”

Stewart found these acts tough to follow.

Bounding to the runway, he presented Butler-Short with a dripping fresh bouquet, swathed in a plastic umbrella bag. “God bless you,” he told her. Then he asked, “Hello, Virginia, how are you doing tonight?” though it was midafternoon and the event was in Washington. “We have a president of the United States who has kept all of his promises.”

Stewart, who recently secured the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, has drawn condemnations, including from some Republicans, for his defense of Confederate monuments and praise of white nationalists. But he laid the blame on the news media, which he said “can’t attack me on my record so they attack me with false allegations of racism, and bigotry and anti-Semitism.”

“Let me tell you something, folks,” he said. “I completely disavow all of those ideologies, 100 percent.”

Cheers erupted. Stewart said he is “an Eagle Scout who loves his country.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we will end the scourge of illegal immigration in America,” he said. “We will build the wall.”

But by then, Stewart had already been given the “wrap it up” signal.

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