“I am the law and order candidate!”
That was Donald Trump’s message on Monday, at a speech in Virginia Beach that was initially intended to focus solely on veterans’ issues, but instead lingered on the candidate’s support for law enforcement and conviction that Hillary Clinton is a criminal.
Neither he nor the two men who introduced him, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Florida representative Jeff Miller, lingered on the fatal shootings of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, by police officers last week—which preceded the murder of five police officers in Dallas—or the racial divide gripping the country.
To hear Trump and his lackeys speak is to hear the musings of men enveloped in the bubble that privilege and prominence has erected around them.
“You defend America and America will defend you,” Trump said. “From now on it will be America first!”
Christie’s remarks framed himself, as a former United States Attorney, as something of an expert on criminal justice.
He argued that Trump, whom he mocked and criticized relentlessly throughout the fall and winter before dropping out of the race and endorsing him in February, is the best man for the job.
He argued it as convincingly as he had once argued that Trump would be the worst man for the job, the Nixonian-quality his face developed after his 2013 weight loss surgery becoming more pronounced with his every utterance.
“We need a president who once again will put law and order at the top of the priority of the presidency in this country,” Christie said, adding that Clinton embodies lawlessness.
“I support Donald Trump and have for quite some time,” he added, “because I know that he will be the type of president who will put the rule of law first, who will make sure that the law’s enforced aggressively and appropriately and will put people in his administration who understand that the rules in this country and the laws in this country apply to everyone—not just the least powerful but also the most powerful.”
After a brief comment, limited to VA reform, by Congressman Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Trump took to the stage in his uniform of dark suit, white shirt and red tie.
“Thank you, wow! What a great group, thank you very much,” Trump said.
Before addressing the VA, he said, he wanted to address “another group” that “serve[s] this country in uniform: the men and women in blue.”
The crowd cheered and Trump nodded.
“Our police officers, we love our police officers. Thank you, that’s very nice. Our police officers rush into danger every single day to protect our communities and they often do it thanklessly and under relentless criticism.”
Trump said the attack on the Dallas police “is an attack on our country.” He noted the “very big rise” in the number of officers killed on duty. “It’s time for our hostility against our police and against all members of law enforcement to end and end immediately right now.”
Trump then repeated what he has said about Castile and Sterling, which is—“the tragic deaths in Louisiana and Minnesota make clear that the work must be done to ensure, and a lot of work, that Americans feel that their safety is protected”—he did not mention who died, how many people died, if they were male or female, or if they had names.
Instead Trump decried, “the ongoing catastrophe of crime in our inner-cities.”
Later, he shifted to talking about the headline topic of the day, the VA, and his press office sent out a 10-point plan for reforming it, including making a 24/7 hotline that Trump promises will be answered by a real human, not a machine. He said he may even get on the phone himself.
Trump, like Christie, bashed Clinton—his likely general election opponent—for her email scandal, claiming that she would be the first president to not be able to pass a background check.
“Not only am I the law and order candidate,” Trump said, “but I’m also the candidate of compassion.”