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Donald Trump was quieter than usual.
At the Union League on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, he stuck closely to a teleprompter as he recited policy promises like increasing military spending and asking NATO nations to “promptly pay their bills.” But this was still Trump, and it was a culture-based message that garnered his only standing ovation of the day.
“We will be united under one God, saluting one American flag,” he said. “And by the way, we love our flag.”
The scene of the speech
The closely-watched, 40-minute speech took place in a 300-person ballroom at the Union League of Philadelphia, a swanky members-only club of about 3,500 people who reportedly pay upwards of $4,000 a year in membership fees. The popular club, founded in 1862 to support President Abraham Lincoln, is the city’s largest bastion of Republicanism and has hosted GOP presidential nominees in the past, including Mitt Romney and John McCain.
The event was closed to the public, but press were allowed in, giving the Trump campaign coverage in the Philadelphia area and its suburbs where Hillary Clinton’s campaign has saturated the airwaves with ads attacking Trump’s temperament.
This was not a loud, boisterous, raucous rally. Only a handful of people sported red “Make America Great Again” caps, and just one quiet “Trump! Trump! Trump!” chant. Most of the attendees were in suits and business attire; after all, the Union League insists on a strict no-jeans dress code.
There was no Elton John music blaring before he entered the room. And Trump felt canned, offering pretty typical GOP policy positions when it comes to bolstering the military and expanding cyber security programs. He was clearly looking to appeal to undecided voters concerned with his temperament, especially those from the Philadelphia suburbs where statewide elections in Pennsylvania are often decided.
He called on Congress to completely end the sequester on defense spending, which was passed in 2013 when Congress didn’t pass a budget and mandated certain cuts were made to military funding. Though his call isn’t exactly a novel idea, it is a reversal from past statements he made that said the cuts mandated under sequestration didn’t go far enough.
Trump said the United States military is woefully underfunded and unprepared, and promised to establish an increase in the size of both the Army and the Air Force. He also promised to ask “my generals” — no specification of who — to create a plan to defeat the Islamic State to be submitted within his first 30 days in office. While he was laying out his defense spending plan, he garnered huge applause when he promised to request “that all NATO nations promptly pay their bills” and to develop “a state-of-the-art missile defense system.”
The 10-point national security plan was a deviation from what critics say has been a largely unspecific campaign. He offered specific numbers for how he would bolster military numbers and laid out a plan for adding additional ships to the Navy. And, Trump added, he’s going to do it all while following the rules of classified information — something he says Hillary Clinton hasn’t done. He called her “trigger-happy,” “unstable” and “reckless.”
“So reckless in fact,” he said, “that she put her emails on an illegal server that our enemies could probably hack, if they haven’t already.”
Across the street from the Union League, Clinton’s campaign hosted a press conference trotting in veterans who slammed Trump’s rhetoric and criticized comments they perceived as disrespectful to military families and veterans. A new NBC News/ Survey Monkey poll found that Trump leads Clinton by 20 points among voters who are either currently serving in the military or are veterans.
The stop at the Union League was Trump’s second in Philadelphia in less than a week. Last Friday, he met in North Philadelphia with a handful of black Republican leaders, and that visit was Trump’s first campaign stop within Philadelphia city limits.
Prior to that, Trump had been largely critical of voters in Philadelphia and implying that the 2012 general election had been rigged in favor of President Obama. Trump and his surrogates pointed out on numerous occasions that former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney didn’t garner a single vote in 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia. However, we’ve rated the claim that Philly rigged the election to be false and misleading.
While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton enjoyed a post-convention surge in the polls in Pennsylvania, her favorability rating has gone down since then. Still, she leads in the most recent polls in Pennsylvania and Trump’s campaign has since said it feels it can win the election without carrying the Keystone State.
The full text
Here’s the full text of Trump’s speech, as provided by his campaign:
Today, I am here to talk about three crucial words that should be at the center of our foreign policy: Peace Through Strength.
We want to achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.
I am proposing a new foreign policy focused on advancing America’s core national interests, promoting regional stability, and producing an easing of tensions in the world. This will require rethinking the failed policies of the past.
We can make new friends, rebuild old alliances, and bring new allies into the fold.
I’m proud to have the support of warfighting generals, active duty military, and the top experts who know both how to win – and how to avoid the endless wars we are caught in now. Just yesterday, 88 top Generals and Admirals endorsed my campaign.
In a Trump Administration, our actions in the Middle East will be tempered by realism. The current strategy of toppling regimes, with no plan for what to do the day after, only produces power vacuums that are filled by terrorists.
Gradual reform, not sudden and radical change, should be our guiding objective in that region.
We should work with any country that shares our goal of destroying ISIS and defeating Radical Islamic terrorism, and form new friendships and partnerships based on this mission. We now have an Administration, and a former Secretary of State, who refuse to say Radical Islamic Terrorism.
Immediately after taking office, I will ask my generals to present to me a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS.
This will require military warfare, but also cyber warfare, financial warfare, and ideological warfare – as I laid out in my speech on defeating Radical Islamic terrorism several weeks ago.
Instead of an apology tour, I will proudly promote our system of government and our way of life as the best in the world – just like we did in our campaign against communism during the Cold War.
We will show the whole world how proud we are to be American.
At the same time, immigration security is a vital part of our national security.
We only want to admit people to our country who will support our values and love our people.
These are the pillars of a sound national security strategy.
Unlike my opponent, my foreign policy will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction. Hillary Clinton’s legacy in Iraq, Libya, and Syria has produced only turmoil and suffering. Her destructive policies have displaced millions of people, then she has invited the refugees into the West with no plan to screen them.
Including Veteran healthcare costs, the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $6 trillion, according to a report in the Washington Examiner. Yet, after all this money spent and lives lost, Clinton’s policies as Secretary of State have left the Middle East in more disarray than ever before.
Meanwhile, China has grown more aggressive, and North Korea more dangerous and belligerent. Russia has defied this Administration at every turn. Putin has no respect for President Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Sometimes it has seemed like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East that Hillary Clinton didn’t want to invade, intervene or topple. She is trigger-happy and unstable when it comes to war.
Hillary Clinton is just reckless – so reckless, in fact, she put her emails on an illegal server that our enemies could easily hack. Then Clinton’s team used a technology called bleachbit to acid wash her emails. They even took a hammer to some of her 13 phones, to cover her tracks and obstruct justice. These email records were destroyed after she received a subpoena to turn them over.
In the FBI report, she claimed she couldn’t recall important information on 39 occasions.
She can’t even remember whether she was trained in classified information, and said she didn’t even know the letter “C” means confidential.
If she can’t remember such crucial events and information, she is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief.
Her conduct is simply disqualifying.
She talks about her experience, but Hillary Clinton’s only foreign policy experience is “failure.” Everywhere she got involved, things got worse.
Let’s look back at the Middle East at the very beginning of 2009, before Hillary Clinton was sworn-in.
Libya was stable.
Syria was under control.
Egypt was ruled by a secular President and an ally of the United States.
Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence. The group that would become what we now call ISIS was close to being extinguished.
Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.
Fast-forward to today. What have the decisions of Obama-Clinton produced?
Libya is in ruins, our ambassador and three other brave Americans are dead, and ISIS has gained a new base of operations.
Syria is in the midst of a disastrous civil war. ISIS controls large portions of territory. A refugee crisis now threatens Europe and the United States. And hundreds of thousands are dead.
In Egypt, terrorists have gained a foothold in the Sinai desert, near the Suez Canal, one of the most essential waterways in the world.
Iraq is in chaos, and ISIS is on the loose.
ISIS has spread across the Middle East, and into the West.
Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, is now flush with $150 billion dollars in cash released by the United States – plus another $1.7 billion dollars in cash ransom payments. In other words, our country was blackmailed and extorted into paying this unheard-of amount of money.
Worst of all, the Nuclear deal puts Iran, the number one state sponsor of Radical Islamic terrorism, on a path to nuclear weapons.
This is Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy legacy.
But that’s not all. President Obama and Hillary Clinton have also overseen deep cuts in our military, which only invite more aggression from our adversaries.
History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength.
Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, defense spending is on track to fall to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II. We currently have the smallest Army since 1940. The Navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. And the Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1947.
When Ronald Reagan left office, our Navy had 592 ships. When Barack Obama took office, it had 285 ships. Today, the Navy has just 276 ships.
The average Air Force aircraft is 27 years-old. We have 2nd generation B-52 bombers – their fathers flew the same plane.
Our Army has been shrinking rapidly, from 553,000 soldiers in 2009 to just 479,000 today.
In 2009, our Marine Corps had 202,000 active Marines. Today, it’s just 182,000.
Our ship count is below the minimum of 308 that the Navy says is needed to execute its current missions. President Obama plans to reduce the Army to 450,000 troops—which would hamstring our ability to defend the United States.
It takes 22 years on average to field a major new weapons system.
In 2010, the US spent $554 billion on non-war base defense spending.
In the current year, we are spending $548 billion – a cut of 10% in real inflation-adjusted dollars. This reduction was done through what is known as the sequester, or automatic defense budget cuts. Under the budget agreement, defense took half of the cuts – even though it makes up only one-sixth of the budget.
As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military.
This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding, and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.
As part of removing the defense sequester, I will ask Congress to fully offset the costs of increased military spending. In the process, we will make government leaner and more responsive to the public.
I will ask that savings be accomplished through common sense reforms that eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks – and that protect hard-earned benefits for Americans.
Government-wide, improper government payments are estimated to exceed $135 billion per year, and the amount of unpaid taxes is estimated to be as high as $385 billion.
We can also reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy through responsible workforce attrition – that is, when employees retire, they can be replaced by a smaller number of new employees.
We can also stop funding programs that are not authorized in law. Congress spent $320 billion last year on 256 expired laws. Removing just 5 percent of that will reduce spending by almost $200 billion over 10 years.
The military will not be exempt either – the military bureaucracy will have to be trimmed as well.
Early in my term, I will also be requesting that all NATO nations promptly pay their bills, which many are not doing right now. Only 5 NATO countries, including the United States, are currently meeting the minimum requirement to spend 2% of GDP on defense.
Additionally, I will be respectfully asking countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for the tremendous security we provide them.
Finally, we will have at our disposal additional revenues from unleashing American energy. The Institute for Energy Research cites a “short-run” figure of as much as $36 billion annually from increased energy production.
Using these new funds, I will ask my Secretary of Defense to propose a new defense budget to meet the following long-term goals:
We will build an active Army of around 540,000, as the Army’s chief of staff has said he needs. We now have only 31 Brigade Combat Teams, or 490,000 troops, and only one-third of combat teams are considered combat-ready.
We will build a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions, which the Heritage Foundation notes is the minimum needed to deal with major contingencies – we have 23 now.
We will build a Navy of 350 surface ships and submarines, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel – we have 276 ships now.
And we will build an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft, which the Heritage Foundation has shown to be needed to execute current missions – we have 1,113 now.
We will also seek to develop a state of the art missile defense system.
Under Obama-Clinton, our ballistic missile defense capability has been degraded at the very moment the US and its allies are facing a heightened missile threat from states like Iran and North Korea. As these potential adversaries grow their missile programs, US military facilities in Asia and the Middle East, as well as our allies, are increasingly in range, with the United States homeland also potentially threatened.
We propose to rebuild the key tools of missile defense, starting with the Navy cruisers that are the foundation of our missile defense capabilities in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The Obama-Clinton administration tried repeatedly to remove our cruisers from service, then refused to modernize these aging ships.
We will start by modernizing our cruisers to provide the Ballistic Missile Defense capability our nation needs; this will cost around $220 million per modernization as we seek to modernize a significant portion of these 22 ships.
As we expand our Navy toward the goal of 350 ships, we will also procure additional modern destroyers that are designed to handle the missile defense mission in the coming years.
Accomplishing this military rebuild will be a fifty-state effort —every state in the union will be able to take part in rebuilding our military and developing the technologies of tomorrow.
In addition, we will improve the Department of Defense’s cyber capabilities. Hillary Clinton has taught us all how vulnerable we are to cyber hacking.
Which is why one of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules, and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.
Hillary Clinton put her emails on a secret server to cover-up her pay-for-play scandals at the State Department. Nothing threatens the integrity of our Democracy more than when government officials put their public office up for sale.
We will also make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans.
One of my first directives after taking office will be asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all relevant federal departments, to conduct a thorough review of United States cyber defenses and identify all vulnerabilities – in our power grid, our communications systems, and all vital infrastructure. I will then ask for a plan to immediately protect those vulnerabilities. At the same time, we will invest heavily in offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt our enemies, including terrorists who rely heavily on internet communications.
These new investments in cybersecurity, and the modernization of our military, will spur substantial new job creation in the private sector and help create the jobs and technologies of tomorrow.
America must be the world’s dominant technological powerhouse of the 21st century, and young Americans – including in our inner cities – should get these new jobs.
We must also ensure that we have the best medical care, education and support for our military service members and their families – both when they serve, and when they return to civilian life.
Our debt to our men and women in uniform is eternal.
To all those who have served this nation, I say: I will never let you down.
We will protect those who protect us.
And we will follow their example of unity. We will work across all racial and income lines to create One American Nation.
Together, we will have one great American future.
We will be one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.
America will be a prosperous, generous and inclusive society.
We will discard the failed policies and division of the past, and embrace true American change to rebuild our economy, rebuild our inner cities, and rebuild our country.
We Will Bring Back Our Jobs.
We Will Make America Strong Again.
We Will Make America Safe Again.
And We Will Make America Great Again.