Last Updated Apr 5, 2018 2:48 PM EDT
President Trump is in West Virginia, the state that voted for him by the largest margin in the 2016 election. His event was billed as a tax reform roundtable, which White House officials said would really be pointed against Sen. Joe Manchin, but ultimately turned into a rant against illegal immigration.
White House officials told CBS News’ Jacqueline Alemany that while tax reform is the official reason Mr. Trump is there, he’s also looking to put pressure on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who voted against the tax bill. Mr. Trump, in his first few minutes of speaking, bashed Manchin for voting against his 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. 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. On Wednesday night, the president signed a declaration sending the National Guard to protect the southern border.
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.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump is hosting a roundtable on tax reform in White Sulphur Springs, a wealthy small town in West Virginia near the Virginia border. Mr. Trump and other Republicans are focusing on the benefits of the tax overhaul they pushed through Congress last year, ahead of midterm elections this fall. And the wealthy Koch brothers’ network is spending $20 million promoting the new tax law, after spending $20 million trying to pass it.
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