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After a week away from the cameras, Trump cuts loose

After several days of unusual quiet, President Donald Trump arrived in Ohio Thursday with plenty to say about pretty much everything.
Image: President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the Infrastructure Initiative in Richfield
The president gave extended public remarks Thursday for the first time in days.Yuri Gripas / Reuters

RICHFIELD, Ohio — After a week of uncharacteristic silence spent largely away from the public eye, President Donald Trump arrived in Ohio itching to give his take on, well, just about everything.

That the remarks — billed ahead of time by the White House as a pitch of the president's infrastructure plan — encompassed at least a dozen other topics in the news was fitting: Scripted "Infrastructure" weeks have become something of a punchline among the White House press corps, as Trump has previously upended the planned rebuilding-themed events with headline-grabbing statements on anything but.

At least Thursday, Trump actually made mention of the infrastructure plan — if only for a few minutes. Even if his conclusion was that it probably wasn't going to become reality anytime soon.

"You probably will have to wait until after the election," Trump said, blaming Democrats for not supporting for his approach.

Trump then regaled the crowd for just under an hour with his thoughts on everything from military spending to community colleges ("I don't know what that means, a 'community college") to TV ratings for the reboot of "Roseanne." He also spoke about tax reform, the Keystone XL pipeline, the recent renegotiation of the U.S.-South Korea trade deal — a "Hillary (Clinton) special."

The president even floated the idea of holding up the newly negotiated U.S.-South Korea trade deal until "after a deal is made with North Korea." Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and said Thursday that "certainly the rhetoric (from the Kim regime) has calmed down a little bit."

North and South Korea also provided a new example for how he'd like to see the U.S. protect its borders.

"North and South Korea? 32,000 soldiers. The finest equipment, barbed wire all over the place, we protect that whole thing, nobody comes through," Trump said, referring to the North Korea-South Korea border. "But our country, we don't do it."

That's why, even after being disappointed by minimal funding levels approved by Congress for his border wall, Trump vowed "we're getting that sucker built!"

"That's what I do, I build," he said, adding, "I think better than being president, I was good at building."

He assured factory workers gathered with him here that their Second Amendment rights were safe, after Republican-appointed, now-retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens suggested earlier this week that it should be repealed.

"Tyranny!" one man shouted from the crowd. Trump told him he was "right about that" and said getting rid of the Second Amendment is "not gonna happen" with him.

"The Second Amendment will always be your Second Amendment," Trump said.

That said, there were some recent gun control-related measures that he was proud of, including the Justice Department's proposal to ban bump stock rapid-fire devices, and strengthening the federal background check system approved by Congress.

One day after replacing his Veterans Affairs secretary, Trump remembered not David Shulkin, nor did he mention the man he picked to replace him — Trump's personal White House physician Ronny Jackson. Instead, he reminded the crowd of the work that agency had done to fix issues of accountability under his stewardship from the top.

"They had sadists that treated our vets horribly," Trump said, describing it as "worse than a movie."

"Now," the president said, with the new changes he was implementing, "when they're bad to our vets or not working for our vets we say 'hey Jim, you’re fired! Get outta here, Jim. Get out!'"

Trump also spoke on issues of foreign policy, broaching the issue of Syria and promising — seemingly off the cuff — that U.S. forces would be leaving the war-torn country "very soon."

"We're knocking the hell out of ISIS," he assessed before telling the crowd "we'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now." It's unclear what other people he meant, but a U.S. departure could cede power on the ground to Russia, among other nations currently involved in the region.

And while Trump did mention his recent call with Roseanne Barr — "unbelievable" ratings for a show "about us," he said — one newsy topic he didn't touch was his legal battle with porn star Stormy Daniels.

The president, multiple spokesmen and women have told reporters throughout the week, has already said enough about her allegations, which they said he denies — despite the fact that Trump hasn't actually spoken about it publicly at all.