(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump basked in the adoration of a Thursday night rally in Indiana, the home state of Vice President Mike Pence, as the two men sought to use the president’s recent moves on North Korea, Iran, tax cuts and his pledge for a border wall to inspire Republicans to unseat the incumbent Indiana Democrat in a key Senate race in November.
"We are rocking," Trump said. "America is being respected again."
Trump interrupted his own remarks at the rally in Elkhart to call Mike Braun, the Republican challenger to Senator Joe Donnelly to the stage. In turn, Braun said that Trump’s 2016 campaign had inspired him. "I’m a businessman and an outsider just like our president," Braun said. "You can count on me to be a true reinforcement and the guy who is going to retire Joe Donnelly."
"We need Mike Braun in the Senate, and that’s going to happen," Trump said, adding that Donnelly had voted against key Trump policies. He said the U.S. had made gains under his presidency but "it could also disappear if you put fools - and if you put the wrong people in."
Pence, warming up the crowd for Trump, predicted that "Indiana’s gonna deliver in 2018" just as the state backed Trump in 2016.
Donnelly’s campaign later released a statement saying that Trump and Pence "are here today for politics" and added that the senator "voted with President Trump 62 percent of the time" in 2017.
Trump drew applause when he recounted the release of three Americans held by North Korea, and their return to the U.S. only hours earlier to a pre-dawn presidential greeting. "We welcomed them back home the proper way," he said. He said his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, scheduled for June 12, was about pursuing peace and security "for the whole world."
Trump also scoffed at those who have expressed concern he would trigger a nuclear war, saying what gets countries into war is "weakness" and that "hopefully something very good is going to happen" with his summit in relation to his call for denuclearization by the North. "My attitude is, if it isn’t, it isn’t," he said of a positive outcome.
"We’re not going to be walking into an Iran deal," he told an audience that approved of his decision this week to abandon the nuclear accord struck between Tehran with other nations under President Barack Obama.
He said that Obama had paid $1.8 billion for hostages, an apparent reference to a $1.7 billion transaction by the Obama administration in 2016, the timing of which overlapped with the release of four Americans detained by Iran. In contrast, he said his team got the three Americans released by the North Korea regime out "for nothing."
The crowd booed and jeered on cue when Trump mentioned the word "Democrats" and when he referred to Donnelly, Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State John Kerry and the press corps that had traveled to Indiana with him, whom he referred to as "the fake news media."
He touched on favorite subjects including his anger over American trade deficits, promises to bring steel jobs back to the U.S. and build a border wall with Mexico, and his move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in a formal event set for next week.
He also teased the announcement of some "great" health care proposals coming out over the next four weeks. "Look at all those beautiful red hats," he interjected, speaking of the Trump campaign baseball caps in the audience. He also said in one aside, "I’m getting nicer as I get older."
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