President Trump goes to Pennsylvania on Saturday to host a rally to mark his first 100 days in the White House -- acknowledging his 2016 win in the blue-leaning state and a presidency largely untethered to Washington pomp and convention.
To be sure, the rally in Harrisburg, Pa., starts at about the same time as the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which Trump ceremoniously said he would not attend, amid his repeated accusations about “fake news” and a press corps eager to challenge his agenda.
“From the first day of my administration, I have governed by a simple idea: My only allegiance is to you, our wonderful citizens,” Trump said in his weekly, weekend address, a likely preview of what he’ll say at the rally.
Trump has indeed tried to deliver his message to the people, often sidestepping the conventional method of going through reporters and the mainstream news media.
“Mainstream (FAKE) media refuses to state our long list of achievements, including 28 legislative signings, strong borders & great optimism!” Trump tweeted Saturday.
Whether his early presidency has been a success largely depends on the chosen measures -- with a sharp division between critics and supporters of the insurgent Trump campaign that upset Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country’s history,” Trump also says in his weekly address. “Most importantly, we’re bringing back jobs. You asked the people of Michigan; you asked the people of Ohio; you can ask the people of Pennsylvania.”
Trump’s victory indeed was made possible by wins in those swing states, with Pennsylvania and Michigan not having voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988.
His return to Pennsylvania is a thank you, like the one he delivered to Florida voters last month in Tampa. But it’s also a likely nod to 2020, with Trump’s reelection effort having already raised roughly $13 million.
Trump is also likely Saturday to list several other accomplishments including getting nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch appointed to the Supreme Court with relative ease in a politically divided Senate.
Other accomplishments expected on Trump’s list include approval of the Keystone Pipeline and renegotiating a contract for the U.S. military’s F-35 fighter jet program that is intended to save hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, Democrats and other critics argue Trump’s early presidency has sputtered, pointing to his failure to get an ObamaCare overhaul plan or any other major legislation passed in Congress, despite a GOP majority in both chambers.
“At the 100-day mark, the Republicans’ biggest success has been energizing Democrats, disappointing Independents and demoralizing Republicans,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Saturday. “Trump and the GOP have shown that they are wholly unable to deliver results, failing to fulfill their promises on everything from health care to tax reform.”
Critics also point out that Trump’s early efforts to tighten national security by limiting visitors from mostly Muslim nations was a failure, the result of at least one executive order that was signed with what appeared to be little advance notice to federal immigration officials and legal challenges that have held up the orders in court.