The 40 most breathtaking lines from Donald Trump's NRA speech
Posted May 4, 2018 4:24 p.m. EDT
(CNN) — On Friday, President Donald Trump traveled to Texas to address the annual convention of the National Rifle Association.
The speech capped a week that included revelations about the questions special counsel Robert Mueller wanted to ask Trump, allegations that Trump had dictated a note to his doctor about his stellar health in 2016, Rudy Giuliani's controversy-causing comments about the payout to porn star Stormy Daniels and the resignation of (yet another) member of Trump's legal team.
In short: Trump was primed and ready to vent some frustrations and settle some scores -- a la Frank Costanza around the Festivus pole.
I watched the speech then combed through the transcript to pull out the 41 most, um, memorable lines.
1. "These are real patriots, they really are, and they don't get the kind of adulation. But really, they do and we know that."
So, wait. Do they get adulation? Or no? Either way -- we're off!
2. "We love Texas, do we love Texas?"
Texas, amirite? Is Dallas in the house? Let me hear you Galveston!
3. "You had your water just pouring down on top of you, just kept coming and coming, he kept calling and calling, we need more money, money, money."
It took me three readings to figure out that Trump is referring to the hurricanes that came through Texas in 2017. "You had your water just pouring down on top of you" is a sort of weird way to describe devastating hurricanes but I digress ...
4. "Senator John Cornyn, been with me right from the beginning."
"Sen. John Cornyn revealed Wednesday that Donald Trump wasn't his first choice for the GOP presidential nomination --- though he still hasn't said who was." (The Dallas Morning News, July 2016)
5. "Ted Cruz, where's Ted? Where's Ted?"
Reminder: During the 2016 campaign, Trump suggested Cruz's wife was unattractive and that his father might have been part of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz, in turn, referred to Trump as a "sniveling coward" and a "big loud New York bully" -- among many, many other things.
6. "We're also joined by Pete Ricketts, Dana Loesch, Charlie Kirk, Diamond and Silk."
Who are five people I never thought would appear in the same sentence?
7. "Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president."
Trump regularly told crowds on the campaign trail that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment and collect their guns if she was elected. That was -- and is -- false. (Also, not for nothing: How can the Second Amendment be simultaneously "under siege" and "never, ever" be under siege when he is president?)
8. "This is your record crowd, you know, all time record crowd. You do know that, so, just remember."
This does not appear to be true. The largest crowd to attend an NRA convention is 86,000 in Houston in 2013. Organizers estimated that 80,000 people would attend this year's convention in Dallas, according to The Wall Street Journal.
9. "Nice to set record."
Always! But that doesn't appear to be what happened Friday in Dallas.
10. "You know, I heard it was about 19 years. I said, 'Wait a minute, the beginning of the century sounds better.' So I say, 'the beginning of the century.'"
Trump is referring here to the fact that the unemployment rate dipped below 4% for the first time since 2000 -- which is 18 years. This quote reveals how laser focused Trump is on framing and perception. So "beginning of the century" rather than "18 years" and "tax cuts" rather than "tax reform." Always a salesman.
11. "Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye, thank you."
Yes, thank you Kanye. Or should I say Yeezus. Or Ye? Anywho, the poll Trump is referring to here is from Reuters-Ipsos -- and doesn't meet CNN's polling standards.
12. "And they voted for me, and we won."
Trump won 8% of the African-American vote in 2016, according to exit polling. Hillary Clinton won 89%.
13. "On CNN, they have a headline: 'Judge in Manafort case says Mueller's aim is to hurt Trump.' Do you believe that? This is what we're up -- It's called the witch hunt."
REMINDER: "The Fake News of big ratings loser CNN." -- Donald Trump, February 2018.
Trump goes on to read from a large section of the article he mentions here. Which is proof that what he means when he says "fake news" -- about CNN or other mainstream media organizations -- is "news that is not good for me."
Also, here's the article Trump read on stage.
14. "We're all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles."
This is the truest thing Trump has said in the entire speech. He loves to fight -- rhetorically, at least. Loves it.
15. "Can you imagine, if we ever called for a rally in Washington, DC? There wouldn't be enough room."
DC is -- give or take -- 68 square miles large. Thanks to this Reddit thread, I calculated that you could fit 947,865,600 people in DC if they were standing shoulder to shoulder. So ...
16. "You know, people don't realize, we have great love going on in this country, great love. It's right here. We have ... and -- and by the way, you just saw the recent poll?
To be clear: This is not edited text. Trump really went from talking about the love in the room to his poll numbers. Seriously.
17. "It came out, the Rasmussen, 51 or 52."
This Rasmussen Reports poll shows Trump at 51% approval. His average approval number is 44%.
18. "That's because people realize that a lot of what you read, and a lot of what you see on television, is fake."
Remember that when trump says "fake" about the news, what you should sub in is "bad for me." So in this case: "That's because people realize that a lot of what you read, and a lot of what you see on television, is bad for me."
19. "You're going to be so happy."
[Puts on green accountant visor, sharpens pencil, does series of math calculations] Yeah, this all checks out.
20. "You weren't sure that Trump was going to win, but you all went out there."
If Trump doesn't go third person at least once a speech, Chris Cillizza gets disappointed.
21. "I remember they came out with a lot of phony polls. You know that that's called? Suppression."
The logic here goes like this: Polling suggested Trump wouldn't win,. The reason for that was because the media didn't want Trump to win and was hoping to convince people who supported him not to vote. And, no, that's not at all what happened.
22. "Remember they said there is no way, Electoral College, there is no way to 270 for me."
The 2016 election ended 546 days ago.
23. "We've delivered and when we were running, I would say we're going to this, we're going to that, we're going to that."
"I walk. I this, I that." -- Donald Trump on his exercise regimen.
24. "I won't use the rhetoric now. Now, I'm trying to calm it down a little bit. So, I'm not going to use the rhetoric."
No, Trump isn't going to say "little rocket man" or say he has a bigger nuclear button than Kim Jong Un. It's called "modern-day presidential," people!
25. "He never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race, where he fell and broke his leg."
Trump is referring to former Secretary of State John Kerry, who broke his leg in the midst of negotiations with Iran. And, yes, the President of the United States is making fun of someone for breaking a leg.
26. "At 73 years old, you never go into a bicycle race, OK?"
This is actually very good advice.
27. "That's what gets you nuclear war. So let's talk about guns, shall we?"
Again, this is not edited. He really said these two sentences back to back.
28. "We are going to have to outlaw, immediately, all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists. Right?"
Trump is suggesting that if Democrats win they will try to ban all vans and trucks. So, good times.
29. "So let's ban, immediately, all trucks, all vans, maybe all cars. How about cars? Let's ban them. Let's not sell any more cars."
He's being facetious. But, you already knew that.
30. "Knives, knives, knives -- London hasn't been used to that."
Real quote. From the President of the United States.
31. "Those midterms -- we have to do them."
[Nods head knowingly]
32. "President Obama was very nice to us, because he left us a lot of judges."
This suggests Trump doesn't understand how the judicial process works (or doesn't work). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked lots and lots of judicial appointments -- including the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. That's why there are so many judicial openings. it has zero to do with Obama.
33. "I hope we have long memories, but I hope we don't have to worry about it because we're going to be there a long time. So we won't have to worry about that."
So, we should worry? Or no? Sort of?
34. "We have laws that were written by people that truly could not love our country."
A truly remarkable statement. Past immigration laws, according to Trump, are evidence not that past politicians did the wrong thing but rather that they didn't love the country. Amazing.
35. "Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they're releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets."
The dark -- and threatening -- image Trump conjures here is eerily reminiscent of his inauguration speech. "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," Trump pledged in that address.
36. "Ninety-eight percent of mass public shootings have occurred in places where guns are banned, just so you understand."
This is a very questionable stat. It comes from the Crime Prevention Research Center, which is run by John Lott, a very controversial figure in the field of gun violence.
37. "There is no stronger deterrent for a sick individual than the knowledge that their attack will end their life and will end in total failure. When they know that, they're not going in. You're not going to have school attacks."
According to this logic, the way to end school shootings is to a) ensure people are armed in the school and b) advertise that fact.
38. "They said, 'You know, going to the NRA convention and speaking today, that'll be very controversial. It might not be popular.' You know what I said? 'Bye-bye, got to get on the plane.'"
The "they" here are "good political people" who warned Truymp against speaking to a group like the NRA. And, of course, this is vintage Trump. The eggheads and status quo types say not to do something but he goes charging ahead -- even more committed than before to show them that they don't know what the people really want. Did "good political people" really tell Trump not to go today? Probably not.
39. "Americans will never surrender, ever, ever, ever. We will never, never surrender."
Well, we made a promise we swore we'd always remember/No retreat, baby, no surrender/Like soldiers in the winter's night/With a vow to defend/No retreat, baby, no surrender." -- Bruce Springsteen
40."I'm doing the right thing. I'm doing it for you, but we're doing the right thing. We're doing the right thing together."
I'm doing the right thing. You're doing the right thing. He's doing the right thing. She's doing the right thing. We're all doing the right thing.