Trump takes aim at usual targets at rally

By KEVIN FREKING
Donald Trump has taken credit for the warming relations between North and South Korea at a rally

President Donald Trump has taken aim at familiar political targets and added a few fresh ones during a campaign-style rally on Saturday night in an Upper Midwest state that gave him a surprising victory in the 2016 election.

Trump has been urging voters to support Republicans for Congress as a way of advancing his agenda. In his rally in Washington Township, he repeatedly pointed to Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as one of the Democrats who needed to be voted out.

After saying Stabenow was standing in the way of protecting US borders and had voted against tax cuts, Trump said: "And you people just keep putting her back again and again and again. It's your fault."

Earlier on Saturday Trump tweeted criticism of Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana over his role in the failed nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling for Tester to resign or at least not be re-elected this autumn.

In his rally remarks, Trump railed against the allegations Tester aired against Jackson and suggested that he could take a similar tack against the senator.

"I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said 'em, he'd never be elected again," Trump said without elaborating.

As he has at similar events, Trump promoted top agenda items that energise grassroots conservatives - appointing conservative judges, building a wall on the US-Mexico border, ending "sanctuary cities" and protecting tax cuts approved by the Republican-led Congress. He also took credit for the warming relations between North and South Korea, telling his audience "we'll see how it goes."

Trump chose a friendly venue for his rally, which not coincidentally came the same night as the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. He skipped the dinner last year, too, and attending a rally in which he took time to attack the news media and assure his audience - as he did in Washington Township, - that he'd rather be with them.

Ahead of the rally Trump said in a fundraising pitch that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room "with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me." He said he would rather spend the evening "with my favourite deplorables."