The 64 most memorable lines from Donald Trump's Alabama speech
Posted September 23, 2017 1:05 p.m. EDT
When President Donald Trump took the stage in Alabama on Friday night to rally support for Sen. Luther Strange, you could tell he was in the mood to make some noise -- and some news.
His hopes for repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act had been dealt a near-fatal blow just hours before when Arizona Sen. John McCain announced he would not support the latest iteration of the legislation. His one-time senior strategist -- Steve Bannon -- as well as some of his other allies (including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and his own Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson) were fighting hard for Roy Moore, the man trying to oust Strange in Tuesday's Republican runoff. A handful of recent poll numbers had shown Trump's image improving -- albeit slightly -- with voters.
And, as he almost always does in these situations, Trump played perfectly to type -- delivering an 80-minute rambling defense of his administration with a series of asides, tangents, stories and I-probably-shouldn't-say-this-but-I-will-anyway-isms.
I went through the whole speech and picked out the 64 lines that stood out to me. They're below.
1. "I love this place. And you know we set every record in Alabama."
It's not totally clear what exact records Trump is referring to here. It could be a record for largest crowd to attend a political rally? Those records aren't really kept. Although Trump did say during the Republican primary process that 32,000 people attended his rally in February 2016 -- the largest crowd, he claimed, to attend any political rally in the campaign to date. Local police estimated the crowd as half the size Trump said. Trump might have also been talking about the raw number of votes he got in the state as a record? He received 1,318,255 -- more than any previous Republican nominee.
2. "You have some football games tomorrow."
True! Alabama plays Vanderbilt in Nashville. Auburn plays Missouri in Columbia.
3. "He's only been there for, what, 34 years or something like that, right?"
Trump is talking here about Alabama Republican Sen. Rich Shelby, who undoubtedly loves the fact that the President reminded a big crowd of people who don't love Washington politicians that Shelby has been in office for more than three decades.
4. "He's doing a good job. He is doing a good job."
This is Trump on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The man he called "beleaguered." The man he called an "idiot." The man he said should resign after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe and a special counsel was created to deal with the investigation. Same dude.
5. "It's going to happen. It's going to happen quickly. Quickly. Better."
Trump on the efforts to rebuild after the hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida. Things are going to be rebuilt. Better. And quickly. Quickly better. Better quickly.
6. "We are going to take care of the bad people."
Tougher. Stronger. Better. (Trump did not make clear how we are going to take care of the bad people.)
7. "We are going to win. Believe me."
Well, I'm convinced!
8. "Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago."
"I'm not the man they think I am at home / Oh no no no / I'm a rocket man."
9. "This should have been handled eight years ago and four years ago and, honestly, and 15 years ago and 28 years ago and 25 years ago"
Twenty eight years ago, Kim Jong Un was 5.
10. "Little Rocket Man."
"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids / In fact, it's cold as hell."
11. "He is watching us like he never watched anybody before. That I can tell you."
The unstable dictator of a rogue nation is watching the US more closely than ever before. This is, according to Trump logic, a good thing.
12. "Maybe something gets worked out. And maybe it doesn't."
Some people say we will have another world war with nuclear weaponized countries. Others don't. Man, I can't wait to see how this cliffhanger ends!
13. "Well, maybe something gets worked out and maybe it doesn't."
Yes, you literally just said that.
14. "Nobody is going to mess with our people. Nobody is going to play games."
Trump loves to play tough guy. He loves to insist that nothing bad is ever going to happen to the US while he's in charge. And that all of our enemies -- and even some of our longtime allies -- need to be woken up to the fact that there's a new sheriff in town.
15. "I made a friend in China."
Good to hear. Friends are a good thing. Maybe the best thing.
16. "He may be smart. He may be strategic. And he may be totally crazy."
17. "I have a lot of friends. And some of them say, 'Do you mind if I go to the other candidate?' Really, you can."
This begins a looooong story Trump tells about Strange and his loyalty. But the President begins the story by noting that lots of his friend are for Roy Moore -- and he's totally fine with that!
18. "I'm on the phone screaming at people all day long, for weeks."
It's hard to imagine why Trump's lobbying efforts on the first repeal and replace bill didn't work ...
19. "That was a totally unexpected thing. Terrible. Honestly, terrible."
Trump on McCain killing the last repeal and replace effort. Worth noting here that McCain has brain cancer. And that Trump has praised him as a patriot for returning to Washington in the summer to take part in the health care debate.
20. "I said if I lose this election, maybe I'll end up moving to Alabama or Kentucky."
The chances of Donald Trump ever moving to Alabama and Kentucky are roughly the same as the chances of Kentucky beating Alabama in football this year.
21. "If Crooked Hillary got elected, you would not have a 2nd Amendment, believe me."
Trump knows this isn't true. Clinton, in the campaign, said these exact words: "I do not want to repeal the 2nd Amendment." He said this same thing throughout the campaign despite fact check after fact check calling it a lie. What Trump is doing is purposefully playing on conservatives' fears that Democrats would somehow outlaw guns if they had the chance.
22. "You got to speak to Jeff Sessions about that."
As Trump riffed on the false idea that Clinton would have seized all guns in the country, the crowd began the now-familiar "Lock her Up!" chant. To which Trump responded that they would need to talk to the nation's top law enforcement official about that. Good times.
23. "So with Luther, I have a list, and one of the names is Luther Strange."
Trump STILL has not told the Luther Strange story he promised about 1,000 words ago.
24. "I don't know him. I met him once."
Trump's lack of a relationship with Strange is an odd thing to highlight given that Trump is in Alabama telling people to vote for the incumbent senator.
25. "That is the tallest human being I've ever seen. I am tall, I've never seen that. Should be on the New York Knicks."
Trump, as he likes to remind you, is pretty tall at 6-foot-2. (Same height as me!) Strange is 6-foot-9. Kristaps Porzi--is, the Knicks' tallest player, is 7-foot-3.
26. "That's why I call him Big Luther. Everyone is calling him Big Luther."
Trump, contrary to his statement, didn't come up with the "Big Luther." Strange has been known as "Big Luther" since at least his 2010 campaign for Alabama attorney general.
27. "Well, Mr. President, could you have dinner with my wife, myself, my family, my uncles, my cousins, and I like to talk to you about it?"
The full effect of this quote has to be seen, not heard. Trump appears to be affecting a southern accent as he recounts how members of Congress who are wavering on health care speak to him when he calls. On a related note: Trump is not a gifted mimic.
28. "They love you and they want to have dinner with you. They want to have breakfast with you and lunch. Then, after you're finished with them, how about we'll go out for a picnic someplace on the White House lawn."
Trump describing another conversation with a senator who wanted him to have a series of meals with their family who love him before voting for health care. And, yes, Trump was still sort of doing the southern accent here, too.
29. "I think his wife is fantastic, but I said, 'Do I have to have dinner with you and your wife?"
Look, I love Mrs. Strange. I just have absolutely no interest in having dinner with her. Like, none.
30. "That was, like, really horrible thing. Honestly. That was a horrible, horrible thing that happened to the Republican Party."
Trump is back to McCain and his "no" vote at "3 in the morning."
31. "He doesn't even know Mitch McConnell. He was just there for a few months, and they put that mantle around his neck."
Strange actually does know the Senate majority leader. In fact, a McConnell-backed super PAC is on track to spend $9 million on ads for Strange in the race.
32. "I see he is down in the race by a lot, and I said, 'Man, that's really unfair.'"
Trump is setting himself up as the Strange savior here. Man, he was getting doors blown off but that I swooped in and suddenly he's back to be competitive. [pats self on back repeatedly]
33. "The last thing I want to do is be involved in a primary, OK? I could be sitting home right now getting to watch some of the games tomorrow."
Kind of a weird thing to say, no?
34. "I think you're going to come back and kick everyone's ass and you're going to do great."
Presidential! Related: I'm only good at two things in this life: Kicking ass and being snarky. And I'm almost all out of snarky ...
35. "The worst. Fake news. They won't show this. They'll say, Donald Trump spoke before a small crowd in Alabama last night. It was a small crowd."
Cable TV always shows the shots of Trump's crowds -- including last night. But why let facts get in the way when you can throw partisan red meat to the crowd?
36. "Very unenthusiastic crowd."
In the second paragraph of the CNN story on the rally, the crowd is described as "raucous." So ...
37. "But they don't show the crowd."
[narrator voice] They do.
38. "They said she wore high heels, going to go into the floods with her high heels. But she has become very popular."
Trump is right about this. Some in the media did make a big deal out of the fact Melania Trump was photographed wearing high heels to get on the plane to visit Houston and the victims of Hurricane Harvey. But she changed into tennis shoes -- making the whole "she's out of touch!" thing a total misfire. Related: Melania Trump is the most popular Trump, but that's not exactly a massive accomplishment.
39. "And I might have made a mistake. And I'll be honest, I might have made a mistake."
This is totally incredible. While at a last-minute campaign rally for Strange, Trump admits he might have made a mistake in endorsing Strange. Yes, really.
40. "And I told Luther, I have to say this, if his opponent wins, I'm going to be here campaigning like hell for him."
See, so I probably shouldn't have made this Strange endorsement because if he loses, people will say it's bad for me. But, I don't really care because I'll campaign for Roy Moore too. Same difference!
41. "Missile defense, you know, when you hear those two words."
Trump is delivering an ode to missile defense here. He also says how important those words are.
42. "As long as I'm president, you are going to have so much money spent here."
Drain the Swamp! Drain the Swamp!
43. "I think we won because of the military. I think we won because of the vets. I think we won because of the evangelicals."
In truth, he won because of the white working class vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
44. "And he won't only be great, he'll be the tallest senator in the history of the United States."
Vote for Strange! He's tall! Also, Trump does love to see a good record broken -- especially on his watch.
45. "Shelby is pretty tall too, by the way."
The Internet doesn't appear to know how tall Richard Shelby is. But having seen him in person I am going to ballpark it at 6-foot-1.
46. "Four-star marine. That's good."
Trump loves his generals -- especially the heavily decorated ones (like John Kelly, who he is referring to here) or ones with cool nicknames like James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who is Trump's secretary of defense.
47. "The wall is happening, folks. Believe me."
Is it, though? Also, is Mexico still paying for it, or nah?
48. "So you have the concrete wall. That's what I do best. That's what I do best. That is what I really do."
Donald Trump: He does concrete walls best.
49. "They have catapults. They throw it over the wall, and it lands and it hit somebody on the head."
Um, what? Drug dealer catapults is a thing now?
50. "I can tweet, 'That was a false story, boom, boom, boom.'"
The Trump presidency, in one quote.
51. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He's fired!'"
This comment -- as you might guess! -- has caused a huge amount of controversy already. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement Saturday morning rejecting Trump's comments as divisive. And a number of prominent NFL players have also responded; "The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed," tweeted Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. "If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!"
52. "Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. Everything that we stand for."
Interesting use of "our heritage" here.
53. "They are ruining the game, right? They are ruining the game. Look, that's what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit."
Trump comes down firmly on the side of those who want football to continue on as it always has -- despite the overwhelming evidence that the sport is producing a generation of men with CTE and other brain illnesses.
54. "You know what's hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem."
There's very little actual evidence that suggests the handful of players refusing to stand during the national anthem is having an adverse impact on TV ratings.
55. "Isn't it a little weird when a guy who lives on 5th Avenue in the most beautiful apartment you've ever seen comes to Alabama and Alabama loves that guy?"
That is weird! Also, "most beautiful apartment."
56. "Did people call you Big Luther before he met Trump? You know, I brand people."
[narrator voice] Yes, they did.
57. "The electoral college is a very special thing."
The election was 319 days ago.
58. "To me, winning the popular vote is easier."
The election was 319 days ago.
59. "I call it the Russian hoax. One of the great hoaxes."
The FBI, CIA, NSA and the former Director of National Intelligence all say Russia not only attempted to interfere in our election but did so to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
60. "Any Russians in the audience? Are there any Russians in the audience? I don't see too many Russians."
This is the standard Trump argument against the idea of Russia involvement in the election. But that's not the claim! The claim is that Russians -- through a variety of means -- sought to influence the narrative around the two candidates in ways that were good for Trump and bad for Clinton. It's totally meaningless whether there are any Russians in the audience in an Alabama crowd.
61. "Look at all those red lights. Ay yai yai. It's always fun to see a red light."
Trump is talking about the lights on the TV cameras that show they are broadcasting him. Trump LOVES to be on TV.
62. "If I have to wait for two seconds, I go crazy."
Donald Trump on patience.
63. "I'm taking a big risk because if Luther does not make it, they are going to go after me."
This Alabama election, like all things, is about Donald Trump first, second and last.
64. "Thank you, Alabama. I love you. Thank you. I love you, Alabama."
And, in conclusion, thank you Alabama. And I love you. But mostly thank you. Also, I love you.