It’s a line meant to bolster a point of weakness for Trump, a weakness for the simple reason that it’s not true. Trump’s administration has worked to undercut the Affordable Care Act, which provides just that protection. His Justice Department supports a legal effort to throw out that legislation and its guarantee of coverage for those with preexisting conditions.
Regardless, that’s not the line Trump offered. Instead, he truncated it.
“I’ve also made an ironclad pledge to American families,” he said from the lectern. We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions” — and that was it. No mention of a guarantee at all.
It’s possible that his decision not to include the line was a function of his stepping back a few steps to bask in the applause of the Republicans in the room. It’s also possible that he didn’t see the line in the teleprompter. Or, of course, it’s also possible that he didn’t want to offer an election-year guarantee that would be hard to defend in the face of that lawsuit.
When he continued his speech, he offered another specific promise on health care that was in his prepared remarks.
“And we will always protect your Medicare, and we will always protect your Social Security,” he said. He added a second “always” for effect.
This, too, is a questionable claim, since Trump said last month that he was open to cutting such programs. Adding that “always” seemed like an effort to walk away from those past comments, but it could simply have been one of many points at which he spiced up his prepared comments with a “very” or an “incredibly.”
Throughout the speech, Trump made several dozen adjustments relative to the speech as written, though none were as substantial as the removal of the guarantee. The less-important changes Trump made instead fall into a few categories.
There’s his tendency to add hyperbole or otherwise punch up phrasing, reiterating adjectives or tacking on superlatives. He at times in his speech also hammered on a point by reiterating it or emphasizing it. Sometimes he stumbled over phrasing and sometimes seemed to disagree with what he was meant to read, as when the speech included accurate-but-modest assessments of the pace of constructing the border wall. And, finally, he’ll sometimes change his verbiage on the fly to get in a dig at his opponents.
Below are examples of those categories taken from Trump’s speech, with some notes. Phrasing he added is in bold. Phrasing he left out is
Adding hyperbole or punching things up
“We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting
high our citizens of every race, color, religion and creed very, very high.”
“And very incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country. True.”
“All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before, with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 percent, and even more.”
“Days ago, we signed the groundbreaking new agreement with China that will defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions and billions of dollars into our Treasury …”
“Here this evening is a very brave man who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans.”
“But sitting beside Iain tonight is his greatest hero of them all. Charles McGee was born in Cleveland, Ohio, one century ago. Charles is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen — the first black fighter pilots — and he also happens to be Iain’s great-grandfather. Incredible story.”
“One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health-care system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans.” While most Americans rate their insurance positively, this seems like something of a stretch.
“The state of California passed an outrageous law declaring their whole state to be a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants, a very terrible sanctuary, with catastrophic results.”
“Very importantly, we entered into historic cooperation agreements with the governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.”
“After more than 500 horrifying days of captivity, [then-Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi murdered young, beautiful Kayla. She was just 26 years old.” Trump has in the past made comments about the beauty of women or girls who died tragically.
“I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them totally innocent.”
“This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo. The beautiful, beautiful Alamo.”
Hammering on a point
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of Americans’ destiny. We have totally rejected the downsizing.”
“Now we want to rebuild our country, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We are rebuilding our country.”
“Just weeks ago, for the first time since President Truman established the Air Force more than 70 years earlier, we created a brand new branch of the United States Armed Forces. It’s called the Space Force. Very important.”
“I have been speaking to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others in Congress in order to get something on drug pricing done, and done quickly and properly.”
“And as the wall rapidly goes up, drug seizures rise and the border crossings are going down, and going down very rapidly.”
“Sergeant Hake now rests in eternal glory in Arlington, and his wife, Kelli, is in the gallery tonight, joined by their son, who is now 13 years old and doing very, very well.”
Changing the meaning of what he was saying
“Since my election, U.S. stock markets have soared 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our nation’s wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible
— this as other countries are not doing well. This is a record. It is something that every country in the world is looking up to. They admire.”
“We have now completed over 100 miles and have over 500 miles fully completed
by in a very short period of time. Early next year, we will have substantially more than 500 miles completed.” The original speech had 500 miles being built by early next year. Trump expanded that outward.
“Chief Ortiz, please stand. A grateful nation thanks you and all the heroes of Border Patrol and ICE.” Trump looped in ICE as he was praising a Border Patrol official.
Stumbling over phrasing
“In the gallery tonight, we have
one of the Space Force’s youngest potential recruits a young gentleman, and what he wants so badly, 13 years old, Iain Lanphier, he’s an eighth-grader from Arizona.”
“He directed the December assault and went on to assault U.S. forces in Iraq, was actively planning new attacks when we hit him very hard. And that’s why, last month, at my direction, the U.S. military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever.” Trump got ahead of himself a bit, talking about the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani shortly before the subject came up on the teleprompter.
“Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very, very poorly. We can help them make
it a very good in a and short time recovery. It can all go very quickly, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help.”
Jabbing at his opponents or boosting his base
“Likewise, we are restoring our nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were, as you all know, that this could never, ever be done.” This is a reference to Barack Obama’s 2016 suggestion that the manufacturing sector couldn’t magically be restored to its past importance.
“Many politicians came and went, pledging to change or replace NAFTA, only to do so and then absolutely nothing happened.”
“It will also bring trade with Mexico and Canada to a much higher
degree level, but also to be a much greater level degree of fairness and reciprocity. We will have that. Fairness and reciprocity. And I say that finally, because it’s been many, many years that we were treated fairly on trade.” This was another one of several points at which he criticized his predecessors.
“I’m also committed to ensuring that every citizen can have access to high-speed Internet, including and especially in rural America.”
“We have confirmed a record number of 187 new federal judges to uphold our Constitution as written. This includes two brilliant new Supreme Court Justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Thank you. And we have many in the pipeline.” Something of a warning to Democrats frustrated at his fervor in appointing judges.
At another point in the speech, Trump introduced Amy Williams and her children, thanking Williams for supporting the family as her husband was deployed. It wasn’t in the prepared remarks, but Trump then unveiled additional news.
“But, Amy, there is one more thing. Tonight, we have a very special surprise. I am thrilled to inform you that your husband is back from deployment. He is here with us tonight. And we couldn’t keep him waiting any longer.”
It was by far the most pleasant change in Trump’s rhetoric.