45th President Donald J. Trump talks exclusively to North State Journal before NC speech

Former President Donald Trump applauds the crowd after he speaks at the North Carolina Republican Convention Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Donald Trump speaks with North State Journal Editor in Chief Matt Mercer before Trump spoke to the NCGOP Convention in Greenville, N.C. (North State Journal)

GREENVILLE — Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, spoke exclusively to North State Journal prior to his June 5 speech at the North Carolina Republican Party Convention dinner. Trump previewed many of the topics he would address later in his speech to the crowd, including the Biden administration’s agenda and his 2022 U.S. Senate endorsement.

President Trump talked about the differing economic plans, touting his 2017 tax-reform bill’s success.

“We cut taxes at the highest rate in history, including Ronald Reagan. We had the biggest tax cut, biggest regulation cuts by far; and it just inspired people to go out and do what they were doing,” Trump said.

In 2019, the national unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Trump also criticized monthly jobs numbers in April and May, which both fell below economists’ expectations.

“You look at the numbers yesterday. They were really not good numbers at all. They were way below what was anticipated. We were talking well over a million [new jobs added], and they’re talking about half of that. They were shocking numbers, and that’s just the beginning. You’re going to see tremendous inflation with what they’re doing and what they’re giving away. No one wants it,” Trump added.

Trump also tied his economic record to the unprecedented development of the COVID-19 vaccines. He said his economic plans help set a foundation when Operation Warp Speed was brought online.

“They did a fantastic job. And we got it done in less than nine months. And everybody said, including Dr. Fauci, three years, four years, five years. And we did something else that people don’t talk about. We bought billions of dollars of the vaccine before we knew for sure that it worked,” said Trump.

Kaiser Health News reported that the total amount of vaccine purchases made during the Trump administration totaled 800 million doses, enough for more than 400 million people. Trump said his administration made a big bet on the vaccine before it was authorized. As of June 7, 63.5% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine — over 170 million total.

Trump also commended the military’s efforts in aiding distribution, saying, “Our military did a great job of distribution before the other group took over. We rebuilt the military, and we did Space Force, tax cuts, regulation cuts. But probably the most important thing was the vaccine. That’s why we’re talking together right now.”

Pivoting to energy, Trump mentioned the Colonial Pipeline hack, and said that North Carolina “got hit more than anybody” when it happened. At the peak, nearly 70% of gas stations in the state were out of gasoline, according to data from GasBuddy. Additionally, North Carolina gas price averages are 29 cents more than this time in 2019, at $2.93, according to AAA. Current prices are also 30 cents more expensive than just a month ago.

He expanded on that point, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t doing that when he was president.

“We didn’t have hacking. We didn’t have problems like this. And now, they’re saying that they’re hacking many more companies. He wasn’t surrounding Ukraine with an army. Look, I was tougher on Russia and tougher probably on all of Europe than any other president,” Trump said. “This is what happens when we’re not respected in the world. You look at the leaders; they’re not respecting us.”

In talking about the 2022 midterms, President Trump previewed his endorsement later in the evening of U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, although not by name. Trump said it was important to win the Senate, saying, “I’m going to be announcing pretty soon who I think should be your next senator. I might even be doing it in about 30 minutes. So stay tuned.”

During the speech, after Trump brought his daughter-in-law Lara Trump onstage to announce that she was not running in 2022, he gave his “complete and total endorsement” of Budd and said he would be back to campaign with him in the state.

Another topic NSJ discussed was the ongoing controversy over Critical Race Theory. In state-level battles, its use is now broadly being debated, with many other states already outlawing its use. In his speech to the convention, Trump said it is hard to believe the wreckage the Biden administration has created around the world in just four months; but he said it is even more alarming the damage they are doing to the nation, institutions and civic unity at home.

Trump told NSJ that, “Critical Race Theory is ridiculous, it’s divisive, it’s really racist, and it’s something that will be stopped. I was stopping it cold, but this new group comes in, and I don’t know if Biden really understands it, if he wants to understand it, or maybe he can’t understand it; but it’s ridiculous.”

He also said that the members of his “1776 Project,” a counter to the “1619 Project” that also has been taken up by Budd, are continuing their work. The members met on May 24 at Hillsdale College’s Washington, D.C. campus and released a statement that read in part, “The restoration of American education can only be grounded in a history of America and its principles that is accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling.”

Budd spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, about the “1776 Project.”

Trump said he would be active in 2022 midterms, telling the activists in the speech that, “With the spirit and energy and commitment of everyone, 2022 is going to be a banner year for North Carolina Republicans,” and that he expected to win an additional two to three congressional seats with the addition of a 14th seat in the state.

In a sign of enthusiasm, chairman Michael Whatley told the crowd, “This is the biggest fundraising event in the history of the NCGOP.”