President Donald Trump jetted to North Dakota Wednesday night for a rally in support of GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer's candidacy against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat. Trump was at his most Trumpian, delivering a free-form campaign speech that went in 100 different directions all at once.
I read through the transcript and plucked out 54 the best lines. They're below.
1. "I wish we could have had this stage back about 100 yards. You'd see how many people. This place is packed."
Always, always, always talk about how this crowd is big and it could have been bigger. What a start.
2. "This place is packed. The only thing more packed is outside, trying to get in."
If you think it's crowded in here, you should see the outside!
3. "You know, we had the chance for a 24,000-seat arena. And we should have taken it."
One of my life mottos: When you have a chance at a 24,000-seat arena, you take it.
4. "Twenty-four thousand seats. No, we would have filled it up very easily, in retrospect, but that's OK."
See No. 3.
5. "He puts a straw in the ground and oil comes out."
This is a useful character trait. And Trump is talking about Harold Hamm, an oil baron and one of the pioneers of fracking.
6. "Great pillows. I actually use them, believe it or not."
Donald Trump is a My Pillow guy!
7. "Maxine Waters is their new leader."
In the wake of the California Democrat calling on opponents of Trump to "push back on" his supporters in public, Trump has hit back by adding a section on Waters to his stump speech. And no, it's not an accident that Trump is pushing an liberal, African-American woman as the "face" of the Democratic Party.
8. "Another person campaigned for eight years. 'Repeal and replace.' And we were a little surprised when the thumb went down."
Trump continues to use Sen. John McCain's (R-Arizona) "no" vote on the repeal and replace vote as a campaign talking point. Which is somewhat odd -- and classless -- given that McCain is battling terminal brain cancer.
9. "We are coming out with so many health care plans. It is so much better than anything you've ever seen before."
In this riff, Trump also said the new health care plan is coming out in two weeks. But also so many plans. And they are going to be better than anything you've ever seen before. Is any of this accurate? Probably not.
10. "You need a senator who doesn't just talk like they're from North Dakota but votes like they're from North Dakota. That's what you need."
This is a good line. And one Cramer should use -- if he isn't already.
11. "I mean, [Waters] practically was telling people the other day to assault. Can you imagine if I said the things she said?"
"So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK. Just knock the hell [out of them] — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise." -- Donald Trump, February 2016
12. "If crooked Hillary would have won this election, and if she came here, which is about a 0% chance, after the election she'd have 200 people in a conference room in a small hotel."
For Donald Trump, size matters. It's the only thing that does.
13. "You know, when the NFL is down 20%, it's the flag. But it's also the fact that everybody is watching us on the different cable networks."
In which the President of the United States claims that he alone is responsible for the recent decline in NFL ratings.
14. "Because, frankly, they find this more exciting than the NFL and a hell of a lot more dangerous, right?"
In which the President of the United States says that he is both more "exciting" and "a hell of a lot more dangerous" than professional football.
15. "And I wish those cameras would circle the room to see how many thousands of people are here, because, you know, on the screen I look -- and all you see are those few beautiful, wonderful people -- I don't know who the hell I -- but you've got a nice group over there. I know you have Mike and some others. They're going to be so famous."
Yes, Trump is again talking about crowd size. But his focus on how the people who are behind him in the TV shot will be "so famous" is a window into how he thinks TV = fame. And fame = good.
16. "I said to my people, 'How many people are here?' They said, 'Six thousand in the arena, but we're going to be -- have to, unfortunately, walk 15,000 or 18,000 people that couldn't get in.'"
Crowd size. Crowd size. Crowd size.
17. "The late, great, Cecil B. DeMille would not have set it up this way, I will tell you."
Nothing like a current reference for the kids in the crowd! Cecil B. DeMille -- he was a movie director, fellow youths! -- died in 1959.
18. "I'm very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office, because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy. That's why he did it."
Trump here is claiming credit for the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. I am interested as to whether Justice Kennedy would cite his comfort with Trump as the reason he decided to retire. Count me skeptical.
19. "Justice Kennedy's retirement makes the issue of Senate control one of the vital issues of our time."
He's not wrong -- although the fact that Senate Republicans are pushing to confirm Trump's pick before the 2018 election makes whether Cramer beats Heitkamp somewhat less important.
20. "Their blue wave is really sputtering pretty badly. The red wave is happening. Just look what happened last night."
It's not clear what evidence Trump saw in Tuesday's primary for a "red wave." The big story of the night was a Democratic Socialist beating an establishment Democratic congressman in a heavily Democratic New York City congressional seat.
21. "Famous people. Oh, they're going to be so famous tomorrow. 'You were in that little group of people behind the President.' Yeah. They're going to be famous people, those people. You have a better location, but they're going to be famous."
The Fame Monster. They say every President matches that moment in our culture. Donald Trump really is the product of our obsession with reality TV, celebrity and fame for the sake of fame.
22. "Everybody comes in, including the vile gang, MS-13, which Nancy Pelosi has gone out and wants to protect, OK?"
23. "I have got to say it. It's not nice. But they're mean. But they have heart."
Mean, but with heart. Riiiight. Makes sense.
24. "Do you see what they do? Bing, bing. Right? You see what they're doing? No, but do you see what they're doing?"
25. "It's already begun, and it's beautiful."
The "it" here is -- you guessed it! -- the border wall. Which, not for nothing, is apparently beautiful.
26. "You know, all those red hats and the white hats, Make America Great Again."
27. "It's called Keep America Great, exclamation point. Exclamation point. Keep America Great!"
I seem to remember someone else who used an exclamation point in his campaign slogan...
28. "I have wealthy friends, like Harold Hamm."
"I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." -- Ron Burgundy
29. "It's not my presidency. You're the one that did it. You're the one that did it. Although I've been a good student."
Trump tries to be self-deprecating here ("You're the one that did it") but he just can't do it, tacking on a note on what a good student he was/is. So, that happened.
30. "But the Heritage Foundation came out with a report, and this was as of two months ago. We've already implemented 64% of our top agenda items."
This isn't exactly what the Heritage Foundation study said. it said that 64% of the agenda item laid out in its own "Mandate for Leadership" document had been adopted by the Trump administration in its first year.
31. "They never take those cameras off my face. Look at all the women."
Two unedited sentences from the President of the United States. he said these sentences back to back.
32. "So, remember, I used to say about the vets -- and I wasn't a great student of the vets, but I'd read where the vets would be online for 13 days, 18 days, three weeks, seven days."
"I wasn't a great student of the vets." -- Donald Trump
33. "And I said, without knowing anything -- I thought it was the most brilliant policy I've ever heard."
He's talking about a policy he thought up -- I think. On veteran care -- I think.
34. "I said, 'Oh, I am so smart. I am the smartest person.' My uncle was a great professor at MIT for 40 years. Can you believe? Forty years. I said, 'But I'm smarter than him. I'm smarter than anybody.'"
35. "When is she going to get over it? When does she get over it?"
Trump is talking here about Hillary Clinton, who he brought up out of the blue. Also, the 2016 election ended 597 days ago. Double also, the crowd began chanting "Lock her up!" after Trump delivered these lines.
36. "Oy, when do they get over it? But, you know, it is pretty amazing. Point after point, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. Oh, she's OK."
Clinton has been found guilty on exactly zero charges.
37. "Michigan's very happy with your President."
There hasn't been a ton of good polling in Michigan, but one quality survey conducted in January had Trump's approval at 39% and his disapproval at 54% in the state.
38. "And one of my biggest critics, a slovenly man named Joe Crowley, got his ass kicked..."
The President of the United States, ladies and gentlemen!
39. "I want to keep Nancy Pelosi right where she is, with Maxine Waters. I want to keep Nancy Pelosi. Please, I want to make a plea to my Democrat friends. Please, please, please don't remove Nancy Pelosi. She should be where she is."
Trump is aligned with most Republican strategists in his desire to keep Pelosi in place. They believe the California Democrat is the best possible motivator for their base voters and turns off independents to boot.
40. "Politics is a mean game, isn't it? It's a mean -- it's a fleeting game. Six months ago, Republicans passed the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history."
Stream. Of. Consciousness.
41. "My daughter and my wife, Melania, they love -- they love the women. And the women love them. The women love them. And the men love them."
Offered without comment.
42. "So, we're not starting a trade war, but we'll finish it."
Wait. We are not starting a trade war. But we'll finish the trade war? Oh yeah, this all checks out.
43. "You know, I was dealt a lot of bad hands."
Donald Trump's victimhood complex is one of the through lines of his life.
44. "The fake news was so upset when I said we had a good relationship. We had a good chemistry."
Trump is referring to his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un here. And, no, the media wasn't "upset" by it. The media did point out, however, that a) Kim murders his own people and b) Trump met with him privately for less than an hour before declaring them great friends.
45. "But when people rush it -- you know, it's like rushing the turkey out of the stove. It's not going to be as good. The women can tell me, and some of the men. See, today I have to be politically correct. See, in the old days..."
Ah, the old days!
46. "And I've directed the Pentagon to begin the process of creating a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, called the Space Force. The Space Force."
47. "Let them send a rocket up to Mars. Let's be the first. I hope they go fast. Let's help them. Let's make it really good for them. And if they do it, we're going to claim it on behalf of the United States, OK? We'll give them no credit. Let them spend the money."
I don't know why he is saying any of this -- any of it! -- out loud.
48. "And by the way, our people, they call it the base, they used to say it's 35. Then they said it's 40. Then they said it's 42. Then they have these polls go -- we're driving them crazy. Now they say it's over 50%."
Trump's highest approval rating -- in his entire presidency -- is 45%, according to Gallup.
49. "I meet these people. They call them the elite. These people. I look at them. I say, 'That's elite?'"
Trump has always been stung by what he perceives to be the unwillingness of the so-called "elites' to accept him. it's what drove his decision to run for president and it is the central driving force of his presidency.
50. "We got more money. We got more brains. We got better houses, apartments. We got nicer boats. We're smarter than they are. And they say, 'The elite.'"
I, for one, do not own a boat. Yet.
51. "They've been stone-cold losers, the elite. The elite."
Did someone say "Stone Cold"????
52. "We are the super elite."
It's like the elite. Just more super.
53. "Because we are Americans, and our hearts bleed red, white and blue."
[Medical doctor shakes his head "no"]
54. "We will make America loving again. Love it. Love it."
Love it. Do it. Now.