President Trump was in Billings, Montana, Thursday evening to rally for Matt Rosendale, the Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. This was Mr. Trump's second visit to the state to support Rosendale, the state auditor.
The rally in Billings capped a difficult week for Mr. Trump, thanks to leaks from administration officials in a new book and in a scathing opinion piece.
Excerpts published in The Washington Post from a book by Post reporter Bob Woodward revealed dysfunction within the administration, including reports that staff members repeatedly insulted the president, and disobeyed or circumvented his directives.
The drama escalated on Wednesday, when The New York Times published an op ed that it says was written by a senior Trump administration official. In this piece, the official claims that there is a "quiet resistance" within the administration composed of a cadre of officials "working diligently" to block Mr. Trump's "worst inclinations."
Tester is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, since he represents a state which Mr. Trump carried by more than 20 percentage points in 2016. Rosendale is a vocal supporter of the president. Mr. Trump has tweeted criticism of Tester repeatedly, over the misconduct allegations he leveled at Mr. Trump's nominee to be Veterans Affairs secretary, Dr. Ronny Jackson. Jackson was ultimately forced to withdraw his nomination.
Mr. Trump concluded his speech at around 10:25 p.m. ET.
He finished with an exhortation for attendees to vote for Rosendale, and then praised American values.
"We will never give in, we will never give up," Mr. Trump said. "Because we are American, and our hearts beat red, white and blue."
As with many of his speeches, he ended on a promise to "Make America Great Again."
Mr. Trump compared his speeches to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, as his speeches are also initially criticized and may later be remembered for their greatness. He said that the Gettysburg Address, when it was first given, was "ridiculed" and "excoriated" by the "fake news -- there was fake news before." It was later recognized as one of his best speeches.
Mr. Trump's speech followed a familiar path at times, touching on issues such as immigration and the jobs. He criticized Democrats for supporting "open borders." "This election is about safety and jobs," Mr. Trump said, before touting low unemployment numbers.
"Before I said, 'What do you have to lose?' Now I say, 'See?'" Mr. Trump said about low black unemployment, referring to when he appealed to black voters in 2016 by asking them what they had to lose.
He also discussed how he was negotiating better trade deals with countries such as Canada and China.
Mr. Trump referred to the op ed in the New York Times by an administration official who claimed that there was an internal resistance in the administration as a "anonymous, gutless coward."
"For the sake of our national security, the New York Times should publish his name at once," Mr. Trump said. He said that Times reporters should investigate who the person who wrote the opinion piece is. "That would actually be a good scoop."
Mr. Trump said that he could not be impeached because he was doing a good job, and was innocent of any wrongdoing.
"How do you impeach somebody that's doing a great job? That hasn't done anything wrong?" Mr. Trump said.
He also said that if a Democrat were elected president in 2020, and a Republican majority held Congress, then Republicans would call for the Democratic president to be impeached.
"If the opposite party becomes president...they'll say 'We want to impeach him!' And they'll impeach him," Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump, who tweeted about North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un earlier today, praised Kim.
"I was just told Kim Jong Un said terrific things about me," Mr. Trump said. "I respect him, and he respects me."
About denuclearization, the president said, "I think something's going to happen. Take your time."
Mr. Trump also talked about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it one of the best meetings he had as president.
"We had a great meeting!" Mr. Trump said, arguing that the press was too hard on him in the aftermath of the meeting. "With these people, you can't win, but we're winning. I'm president, your president, we're winning."
Responding to recent critiques -- including from his own administration -- that he was not fit to be president, Mr. Trump said that proof of his mental acuity was that he gives multiple hour-and-a-half campaign rallies, often "without any notes."
He also criticized the reporters attending the rally.
"Look at all the fake news back there," Mr. Trump said, to loud jeers from the crowd. He argued that the press does not report enough on his victory.
"I beat 17 great people, and I respectfully say, I beat the Bush dynasty," Mr. Trump said about the Republican primaries in 2016. "I beat Hillary, who stole it from Bernie." He said that his presidential win proved his capability to be president.
"And then I listen, 'is he competent?' I think I'm pretty competent!" Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump began his speech by criticizing Tester, saying he would vote along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"Jon Tester will never drain the swamp because he happens to live in the swamp and he loves the swamp," Mr. Trump said. He did praise a campaign ad Tester released touting his close relationship with the president, joking that "even Democrats" love him when he wins their states.
He also criticized Tester for his role in undermining Jackson's nomination.
"He's actually the doctor that gave me my physical, and he said I'm in great shape," Mr. Trump said about Jackson. He called the allegations against Jackson lies.
Rosendale praised Mr. Trump when he took the stage briefly, and argued that the president needed him to vote for a conservative agenda.
"Montana is going to right a wrong this November and we're going to send you the conservative reinforcements you need to continue your good work," Rosendale told Mr. Trump.
Rosendale promised to repeal and replace Obamacare and "fight against the liberals that are trying to grab your guns." The National Rifle Association has endorsed Rosendale's campaign. He also endorsed term limits.
"If you elect me, I promise to serve no more than two terms," Rosendale said.
Mr. Trump took the stage at around 9:10 p.m. ET.
"There's no place like a Rosendale rally," Mr. Trump said. "But there is no place like a Trump rally."
Since taking office, Mr. Trump has attended 22 campaign rallies, including the event in Billings Thursday night, according to CBS News' Mark Knoller. This is his second time at a campaign rally in Montana.
Mr. Trump has rallied in 13 states since taking office, primarily in the Midwest.
Tonight's Trump campaign rally is his 22nd since taking office, and his 2nd in Montana. Here are the 13 states in which he has staged rallies to date: pic.twitter.com/bb0T08gD25— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 6, 2018
Mr. Trump tweeted shortly after 7:00 p.m. ET that he was arriving in Montana. "Landing in Montana now to support Matt Rosendale for U.S. Senate! #MAGA," the president tweeted.
Mr. Trump has said that the op-ed published by the "failing New York Times" is gutless. He also tweeted about the article repeatedly, including one missive that simply read "TREASON?".
"Does the so-called "Senior Administration Official" really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!" Mr. Trump tweeted.
Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Several administration officials denied that they had written the piece on Thursday. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement urging critics to contact the Times' opinion desk "if they want to know who this gutless loser is."
Mr. Trump also tweeted about the opinion piece shortly before the rally. "Are the investigative "journalists" of the New York Times going to investigate themselves - who is the anonymous letter writer?" Mr. Trump wrote.
While Mr. Trump may not directly address the op ed at the rally Thursday evening, he may ratchet up his characteristic attacks on "Fake News" media outlets and reporters.
Tester released a new campaign touting his ties to Mr. Trump on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. The ad is scheduled to air on stations in Billings.
The ad promotes two pieces of legislation signed into law by Mr. Trump involving veteran health care. When the president previously visited in July, Tester took out newspaper ads welcoming the president to the state.
"Anytime you get a president of the United States to come to Montana, it's certainly not a bad thing for Montana," Tester told the Associated Press. "He's going to do what he's going to do. I just hope he uses the trip for more than political purposes, but we'll see."