GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania — Donald Trump’s speech in the historic town where the Union won a decisive battle in the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln gave the famous Gettysburg Address, was billed as a major policy address outlining his plan for his first 100 days in office.
“Trump's Gettysburg speech will be the most decisive break with the corrupt establishment in modern times. He is detailed and decisive,” Newt Gingrich tweeted shortly before the speech.
“Tomorrow’s speech will set the tone for the closing arguments of this election,” Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller said in a statement on Friday.
But Trump spent much of the speech railing against the media, comparing his crowd sizes to Hillary Clinton’s, claiming the system is rigged, and threatening to sue the women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment — one of the only new proposals Trump made during the speech. The speech illustrated Trump’s retrenchment to his base in the last weeks of the election, and his preoccupation with retribution against perceived enemies.
The policy portion of the speech was mostly a list of by-now familiar Trump proposals like building a southern border wall, renegotiating or withdrawing from trade deals, and labeling China a currency manipulator.
“The system is totally rigged and broken,” Trump said near the beginning of his speech. He then started talking about voter fraud, which he claims is widespread and has repeatedly mentioned on the trail recently as evidence that the election is being rigged against him.
“A big part of the rigging of this election is the fact that Hillary is being allowed to run despite having broken so many laws on so many different occasions,” Trump said. At one point, a “lock her up” chant broke out among the small audience of local supporters.
Trump gave familiar refrains about the “dishonest media,” accusing them of inventing stories and downplaying the large size of his rallies.
“They lie and fabricate stories to make a candidate that is not their preferred choice look as bad and even dangerous as possible,” Trump said. “At my rallies they never show or talk about the massive crowd size and try to diminish all of our events. On the other hand they don’t show the small size of Hillary’s crowds, but in fact talk about how many people are there.”
Trump spoke against media conglomeration, saying as president he wouldn’t approve a deal like AT&T buying Time Warner and saying of Comcast’s purchase of NBC that “we’ll look at breaking that deal up.”
Most strikingly, Trump vowed to sue the women who have come forward in the wake of the explosive Access Hollywood tape that leaked earlier this month, who have accused him of sexual assault. An 11th accuser is giving a press conference with lawyer Gloria Allred on Saturday. Trump has a history of making legal threats and not following through on them.
“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump said. “Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”
When Trump finally pivoted to his ideas for his first 100 days — a plan he is calling a “contract between Donald J. Trump and the American voter” — it was mostly initiatives he has already promised, though Trump did offer more detail on a few proposals, like saying he would enact a hiring freeze on the federal government workforce and pledging to cut off U.S. funding for U.N. climate change programs. Trump also put a finer point on his Muslim ban proposal, which has been watered down over the course of the campaign. Trump presented it in his Gettysburg speech as a proposal to "Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.” And Trump said that, while Mexico will still be paying for the wall, the way it will work is that they will “reimburse” the U.S. for the costs of building the wall.
Trump also outlined some ideas for legislation he wants to introduce in Congress, including the “End Illegal Immigration Act” and the “Clean Up Corruption In Washington Act.”
A press release from the campaign sent immediately after its conclusion heralded it as “groundbreaking.”
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.