CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press
JULIE PACE, Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Just four weeks into his administration, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, repeating his political promises and continuing his attacks on the “dishonest media.”
“I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump told a cheering crowd packed into an airport hangar, praising his “truly great movement.”
Insisting he was the victim of false reporting, Trump said his White House was running “so smoothly” and that he “inherited one big mess.” The president has been trying refocus after reports of disarray and dysfunction within his administration.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the rally, Trump said he was holding a campaign rally because “Life is a campaign.”
“To make America great again is absolutely a campaign,” he said. “It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”
The rally came during Trump’s third straight weekend at his private south Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. It was another working weekend for the president, who planned to interview at least four potential candidates for the job of national security adviser, a position unexpectedly open after retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s firing early this week.
Trump said Saturday “I have many, many that want the job, they want to really be a part of it. I’ll make a decision over the next couple of days.”
Scheduled to discuss the job with the president were his acting adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the four interviews were expected to take place Sunday at the private estate.
Finding a new national security adviser was proving to be a challenge for Trump. His first choice, retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward, turned down the offer.
Trump had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but Spicer said Saturday that Petraeus was not a finalist. The retired four-star general resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.
Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis since the inauguration, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.
Trump criticized the news media during a marathon news conference on Thursday and continued his rants Saturday, tweeting: “Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”
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