ESTERO, Fla. | A combative President Trump returned to the campaign trail Wednesday night for a frenetic final push toward Election Day, warning Florida voters that Democrats will allow the U.S. to be inundated with caravans of migrants from Central America.
Speaking to a packed arena on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Mr. Trump urged supporters to vote for Senate candidate Rick Scott and gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis, both of whom trail their Democratic opponents by narrow margins in polls. The president called it “one of the most important elections of our entire lives.”
“The people of Florida are going to reject socialism, and elect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott,” Mr. Trump predicted.
Fantastic evening in Florida with great PATRIOTS at a beautiful #MAGARally. Get out and https://t.co/0pWiwCq4MH so we can continue MAKING AMERICA SAFE & GREAT AGAIN! https://t.co/c3fqrEdzFU pic.twitter.com/VrmaMHPhl3
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2018
The president’s rally kicked off a final week of campaigning that will take him eight contested states for 11 rallies by Monday. Mr. Trump’s campaign theme picked up where he left off last Saturday, vowing to secure the southern border against caravans of thousands of migrants trying to reach the U.S. through Mexico.
“We’re getting prepared for the caravan, folks. You don’t have to worry about that,” Mr. Trump said. “They got a lot of rough people in that caravan. We’re tougher than anybody. We’re tougher than any force. And we’re probably going to have to be, unfortunately.”
He has ordered the deployment of about 5,200 U.S. troops to the border to beef up Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officials in a support role.
Mr. Trump reiterated he will end the program known as “catch and release” for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who usually skip later court appearances. He said he’s prepared to deploy as many as 15,000 troops.
“It’s called catch, but we take the word ‘release’ out,” the president said.
Earlier in the day, at the White House, Mr. Trump told reporters, “We’re not going to release and let them never come back to trial. We’ll build tent cities, we’ll build whatever we have to build in terms of housing, but we’re not doing releases.”
The president also has floated the idea of issuing an executive order that would end automatic citizenship for people born in the U.S., which is viewed as a lure for some immigrants but has been seen as a guarantee under the 14th Amendment.
At the rally, Mr. Trump referred to it as “this crazy policy.”
“They are all made instantly eligible for every benefit … at a cost of billions of dollars per year,” he said, adding that the policy “has created an entire industry of ‘birth tourism.'”
Despite appearing to back away from the idea of an executive order earlier in the day, Mr. Trump insisted Wednesday night he could change the rule with such a unilateral action.
“The Constitution does not require it,” he said. “Read it. Because illegal aliens are not ‘subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.'”
He was citing the passage of the 14th Amendment that some legal analysts think could be interpreted as excluding the children of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from those guaranteed citizenship at birth within the United States.
Harry Reid, when he was sane, agreed with us on Birthright Citizenship! pic.twitter.com/ypiE1QWKag
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Mr. Trump attacked Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson as having “one of the worst voting records of any lawmaker.”
“Bill Nelson wants open borders. Our country can’t survive with open borders,” he said.
And Mr. Trump said Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, “is too extreme for the people of Florida. And he’s also weak on crime.”
“Tallahassee is among the most corrupt cities in the United States. Is this really what you want?” he asked.
Mr. Trump returned to the campaign trail a day after visiting a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed Saturday by a gunman who had posted anti-Semitic messages online and reportedly yelled “all Jews must die” during the attack.
“We pledge our resolve to remove the vile poison of anti-Semitism and so many other problems from our world. And we reaffirm our unbreakable solidarity with the Jewish people,” Mr. Trump said.
But he also turned on the media again, saying he was disappointed to return to Washington to see media coverage of his trip that focused on protesters of his visit to the victimized synagogue. Many on the left are blaming Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric for inciting violence.
“They took a small group of protesters far away from where we were … and did everything in their power to try to play it up and push people apart,” he said of the media. “It was fake and it was make-believe. I came home and looked forward to seeing it, and it was sad. The far-left media has spread terrible lies and stories about the Trump administration and the tens of millions of people who make up our great movement.”
Repeating a phrase that has provoked heated criticism from the media, Mr. Trump told the crowd, “Thirty-three percent of the people in this country believe the fake news is in fact — and I hate to say this — in fact the enemy of the people.”
⦁ Dave Boyer reported from Washington.
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