President Trump road-tested his tentative new Afghanistan peace deal at a campaign rally on Monday night, telling supporters in North Carolina that it’s time to bring U.S. troops home after 19 years of war.
Addressing a packed arena in Charlotte on the night before the Super Tuesday primaries, Mr. Trump said the deal signed two days earlier with the Taliban is part of his campaign pledge to stop “never-ending wars in the Middle East.”
“We’re bringing soldiers back home,” Mr. Trump said to cheers. “American troops cannot be the policemen for the world. The job of the American military is to secure and defend our country. We can finally begin to bring our amazing troops back home.”
The president also drew cheers when he added, “We must keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”
Mr. Trump spoke briefly about the coronavirus, noting that he’d met with the heads of pharmaceutical companies. He said they “are going to have vaccines relatively soon,” although experts say it will likely take at least a year to develop and test for safety.
The president hinted at another medical development without elaborating.
“They’re going to have something that makes you better, and that’s going to actually take place we think even sooner,” he said.
Charlotte will host the Republican National Convention in August, when Mr. Trump will formally be renominated for a second term. It is again is a crucial battleground, after Mr. Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton there in 2016 by less than 4 percentage points.
The president campaigned for Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, who came up on stage and urged the crowd to reelect Mr. Trump.
Mr. Tillis warned that Democrats and their plans for free college tuition and free health care would bankrupt the country.
Referring to the president, Mr. Tillis said, “You got to get this man reelected so we can give you the free stuff that a free country deserves: free markets, free trade, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the freedom for you to protect yourself with your right to bear arms.”
Mr. Trump criticized the state’s “super-liberal” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for vetoing a bill last year that would have required North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration authorities to hold undocumented immigrants and subject to deportation.
“What is he thinking?” the president asked.
Mr. Trump also took several jabs at the rapidly changing Democratic field of presidential candidates, arguing that former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Joseph R. Biden in hopes of a “quid pro quo” job in a Biden administration.
“Sounds like they made a deal, they both supported ‘Sleepy Joe,’” Mr. Trump said. “You know why? Quid pro quo, that’s why. Impeach them! They should be impeached.”
“It’s being rigged against crazy Bernie,” the president said of Democratic front-runner Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.
Mr. Trump said he was skeptical of the idea that the South Carolina primary win created a surge of momentum for Mr. Biden: “There’s not a lot of enthusiasm for Biden,” he told the crowd.
“I thought he gave up the presidency the other day, because he said he’s running for the Senate,” Mr. Trump said.
He also noted that Mr. Biden mistakenly spoke of the important primaries coming up on “Super Thursday.”
“You can’t do these things,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s constantly naming the wrong state. He makes a lot of those mistakes, it’s a little scary. You can’t do that when you’re negotiating with China.”