YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — President Trump was in his element and bathing in the adulation of the crowd. People shouted and cheered and whistled and jumped up on chairs to see him. Finally, the president even invited one of them to take the microphone for a minute.
“Every one of these people love you, sir,” said the man, wearing a T-shirt that said “TRUMP WON — Deal With It.”
For a president who has not gotten a lot of love lately inside the Beltway — where they have definitely not yet dealt with it — hitting the road in recent days has been a political booster shot. Three out of the last four days, the famously homebody president with the low approval ratings has escaped the Washington free-fire zone to seek more appreciative audiences.
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He started on Saturday with sailors at the naval station in Norfolk, Va., headed to the hollows of West Virginia on Monday for the Boy Scouts national jamboree and then visited a veterans center and addressed a rally in Youngstown on Tuesday night. He treated each of the stops almost as if they were campaign events. And if that produced grumbles about politicizing the military and the Scouts, he had no need to worry at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, a 7,000-seat arena filled to the rafters as more watched on screens outside.
The deal-with-it crowd waved “Make America Great Again” signs and chanted favorites from last year’s campaign, including “Build the Wall,” “Drain the Swamp” and “CNN Sucks.” Fresh from his narrow procedural victory on health care, the president beamed.
“You think that’s easy?” he said of the 51-to-50 vote in the Senate. “That’s not easy.”
He added: “We’re now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people. We’re going to do that.”
The procedural vote in the Senate meant that the health care debate is just starting, and by the time he returned to Washington later in the evening senators had already rejected one plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s program and replace it with a Republican version. But Mr. Trump used the friendly Ohio setting to issue a warning to balky Republican senators.
“Any senator who votes against repeal-and-replace is telling America that they are fine with the Obamacare nightmare,” he said, “and I predict they’ll have a lot of problems.”
Mr. Trump returned to Ohio almost exactly a year after accepting the Republican nomination in this state. Ohio was one of the key battlegrounds that put him over the top in the Electoral College in November. But it is also the state run by one of his most vocal Republican critics, Gov. John Kasich, who stayed away on Tuesday.
Accompanied and introduced by the first lady, Melania Trump, the president played to the crowd, talking about Ohio manufacturing and praising those who turned out as “true American patriots.” To make his case on trade, he cited a president from Ohio, William McKinley, although he then asked, “Does anybody know who the hell he is?”
But for Mr. Trump, it was an affirming evening.
“Boy, oh boy, what people,” he said. “Is there any place that’s more fun, more exciting and safer than a Trump rally?”
Just after he said how safe it was, a scuffle broke out in the seats as a protester unfurled a handmade sign saying “Trump/Pence Must Go.” Supporters of the president tried to wrestle it from the protester before a police officer physically shoved him out of the arena.
“Where the hell did he come from?” Mr. Trump asked.
A few moments later, another protester was led out, this one looking like a teenager.
“Boy, he’s a young one,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s going back home to Mommy.” After the crowd laughed, he added, “And I bet his mommy voted for us, right?”
Just hours after he denounced his own attorney general as “VERY weak” on Twitter, Mr. Trump took on those who have criticized him for crossing lines that his predecessors have avoided. “Sometimes they say, ‘He doesn’t act presidential,’” Mr. Trump said as the crowd laughed. “And I say, hey, look, great schools, smart guy, it’s so easy to act presidential. But that’s not going to get it done.
“In fact,” he continued, “I said, it’s much easier to act presidential than what we’re doing here tonight. And I said, with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. But sadly, we have to move a little faster than that.”
He added a little later: “I’d ask whether you think someday I might be on Mount Rushmore, but here’s the problem — if I did it, joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say, ‘He believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.’”
When Mr. Trump is on the road, he wanders off script at times. In West Virginia on Monday, he relished telling old stories, at one point regaling Boy Scouts in their teens and younger with a memory about a cocktail party that featured “the hottest people in New York.”
In Youngstown, he mainly fell back on the highlight reel from last year’s campaign, promising to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the United States, asserting that manufacturing jobs are “all coming back” and promising the “single biggest tax cut in American history.”
His incoming communications director said the other day that the strategy was to let Mr. Trump be Mr. Trump. And for the last few days, the president has returned to the road to do just that.
In other words, his message to Washington was clear: Deal with it.
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