MONACA, Pa. — President Trump criticized the media, mocked his Democratic challengers, critiqued the Academy Awards, lamented losing money while president and boasted of his poll numbers while visiting a construction site here to give remarks about U.S. energy production.
The president spoke for more than an hour, meandering between his prepared remarks and a campaign-style speech listing grievances and currying votes. He touched on his 2016 victory in Pennsylvania, his love of trucks, “fake news,” China, trade, immigration, the Green New Deal, windmills, the Paris climate accord, former president Barack Obama’s $60 million book deal, Iran, veterans and New York energy policies.
Standing in a room full of construction workers in the middle of the day, many wearing their fluorescent work vests, Trump urged them to support his reelection and to convince their union leaders to do the same.
“And if they don’t, vote them the hell out of office,” he said.
Trump’s visit to Royal Dutch Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemical Complex here, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, was an official White House trip intended to promote the administration’s energy policies. The complex, which is still under construction, will use ethane from Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale to produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene each year for use in plastic products such as food packaging containers and cellphone cases, Shell said.
Trump told the workers that without him, they would be out of work, and subsequently complained that being president was costing him $3 billion to $5 billion, without offering any details to back up the claim.
“This thing is costing me a fortune, and I love it because I’m making the lives of other people much, much better,” he said.
Trump taunted the media, asking the crowd whether an election has ever been canceled because a president was doing so well. He told the workers that to drive the press “totally crazy,” use “hashtag third term, hashtag fourth term,” an apparent joke that he won’t leave the White House when his presidency ends.
At one point, Trump went off on the Academy Awards, saying no one watches the show anymore because people got sick of celebrities “disrespecting the people in this room.”
Not long after, he used disparaging nicknames he has created for two Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former vice president Joe Biden.
“What a group. Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe,” he said. “I don’t think they give a damn about Western Pennsylvania.”
Monaca sits in Beaver County, which runs along the border with Ohio. Trump erroneously told the crowd he had won the county by 28 points in 2016, when he had actually won by a margin of about 18.5 points. In 2018, the county swung away from Republicans, backing Democratic candidates for Senate and governor.
State and local governments provided millions of dollars in incentives to persuade Shell to build its petrochemicals complex in Pennsylvania. While the project employs more than 5,000 people working in construction, it ultimately will have about 600 permanent employees when completed in a few years, according to Shell.
Environmental groups say the complex represents an increase in pollution and boosts the plastic industry despite warnings that too much plastic is contaminating the ocean. Democrats have blasted Trump for embracing fossil fuels and abandoning Obama’s efforts to pursue renewable energy and combat climate change.