Trump's Thanksgiving message: 'The enthusiasm in this country has never been higher'
PALM BEACH, Fla. — On Thanksgiving, President Donald Trump celebrated winning.
Early in the morning, he tweeted a list of wins, including the "highest Stock Market EVER," a reduced unemployment rate and a new Supreme Court justice. A few hours later, he video-chatted with troops stationed around the world and told them that they are now winning because his administration is allowing them to do their jobs and win.
Trump then traveled to a nearby Coast Guard mess hall to hand out sandwiches and commend the military branch for improving its brand over the past few months. Afterward, he stopped by his private golf club in West Palm Beach.
"Our country is doing great," Trump said, standing behind an overflowing basket of sandwiches in the mess hall. "You folks are fighting so hard, and working so hard. And it's nice that you're working for something that's really starting to work."
Critics of the president are quick to note that this holiday victory lap is lacking some context and makes no acknowledgment of any shortcomings, such as Trump's historically low approval rating or the Republican Party's inability so far to make the major legislative reforms they promised voters.
The president's day started, as most now do, with an early morning tweet.
"HAPPY THANKSGIVING," Trump tweeted at 6:28 a.m., "your Country is starting to do really well. Jobs coming back, highest Stock Market EVER, Military getting really strong, we will build the WALL, V.A. taking care of our Vets, great Supreme Court Justice, RECORD CUT IN REGS, lowest unemployment in 17 years . . .!"
Three minutes later, the president responded to a tweet from Greg Sargent, a Washington Post opinion writer, that referenced Trump's recent criticism of the father of a UCLA basketball player and stated: "Trump regularly attacks high-profile African Americans to feed his supporters' belief that the system is rigged for minorities."
"MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump wrote. The same message was later sent out on its own.
Nearly three hours later, Trump sat down at a computer screen set up in the lavish living room of Mar-a-Lago, the exclusive club in Palm Beach where he spends many winter weekends. On his screen were troops from the five branches of the military who are spending the holiday in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait and out at sea.
"It's an honor to speak with you all and to give God thanks for the blessing of freedom," Trump said, often reading from a piece of paper in his hands.
He told those stationed in Afghanistan that "everybody's talking about the progress you've made in the last few months since I opened it up."
"We opened it up. We said, 'Go ahead, we're going to fight to win,' " Trump said. "We're not fighting anymore to just walk around - we're fighting to win."
The same thing is happening in Iraq, he said, as he thanked the service members who are fighting the Islamic State terrorist group.
"We're really winning," Trump said. "We know how to win - but we have to let you win. They weren't letting you win before. They weren't letting you play even. We're letting you win."
Trump acknowledged that it's difficult for these troops to be away from home during the holidays - but he assured them that he's winning while they are gone.
"The economy is doing really great," Trump said. "When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and the companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. So you're fighting for something real, you're fighting for something good."
The president, along with first lady Melania Trump, then hopped into the motorcade and traveled to the Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach, Fla. The Trumps purchased lunch for those working on Thanksgiving and briefly addressed dozens of Coast Guard members.
"It is an honor to be here," the president said. "The Coast Guard - always respected - but if you were looking at it as a brand, there's no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard" in responding to hurricanes that hit Texas, several Gulf Coast states and Puerto Rico.
Trump offered to take questions, but no one spoke up. So he filled the time by telling them about increasing funding for the military and all of the new equipment that it's buying. And he promised that America's allies won't get equipment that is quite as good because "even if they're allies, you never know about an ally, an ally can turn."
It was then time for the president to hand out sandwiches - and shake hands with the Coast Guard members. He joked about arm wrestling one of them and then remarked: "Such good shape, what's going on here?"
Soon, the president was back on the road, this time to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, where he spent about four hours. He then returned to Mar-a-Lago for dinner with his family and some friends. The menu included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, a variety of baked goods, local produce and cheeses, red snapper and Florida stone crab, along with various cakes and pies for dessert.
In honor of the holiday, the president also released a video address in which he retold the story of Thanksgiving, thanked those who responded to disasters this year and, again, recounted the wins.
"Our country is doing very well," Trump said. "We are doing something very special. People are feeling it. The enthusiasm in this country has never been higher. We're very, very happy on this Thanksgiving Day."
The Washington Post's David Nakamura and Kristine Phillips in Washington contributed to this report.
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