WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — After four tumultuous weeks of governing, President Donald Trump is out of the White House doing what he loves best — campaigning.
Trump will hold a campaign rally at an airport hangar in central Florida on Saturday afternoon. The event in Melbourne comes as he seeks to regain his footing following a series of crises that have threatened his young administration.
For Trump, the rally offers an opportunity to recapture the energy of his upstart campaign and to connect with his supporters. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wants to “speak directly to people across this county in an unfiltered way, in a way that doesn’t have any bias.”
The president also plans to work during the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. He tweeted Saturday morning that he “will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House.”
Trump is expected to meet with potential candidates to replace ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn — retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward — turned down the offer.
His acting adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, traveled with Trump on Saturday. Other possibilities include Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, according to a person with knowledge of the search process who was not authorized to discuss internal White House deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus has also been cited as an option. At the Munich Security Conference on Friday, he declined to say if he would take the job, but noted that whoever does, should be promised some authority.
“Whoever it is that would agree to take that position certainly should do so with some very, very significant assurances that he or she would have authorities over the personnel of the organization, that there would be a commitment to a disciplined process and procedures,” said Petraeus, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
Trump also continued his rants against the news media Saturday, tweeting: “Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”
During an appearance Friday at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, Trump slipped back into his campaign’s “America First” message with ease.
“America is going to start winning again, winning like never ever before,” he said, as the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. “We’re not going to let our country be taken advantage of anymore in any way, shape or form.”
Big rowdy rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of the transition, during what he called a “thank you” tour.
The event Saturday is being put on by Trump’s campaign, rather than the White House. Asked if it was a rally for the 2020 election, Sanders called it “a campaign rally for America.” Trump himself promoted his appearance on Twitter on Friday: “Looking forward to the Florida rally tomorrow. Big crowd expected!”
Since taking office, Trump has lurched from one problem to the next, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.
Trump’s reset effort started Thursday with a marathon press conference where he defended his administration and denounced the “criminal” leaks that took down his top national security adviser. He used the platform to complain about the political press and to brag that his administration was a “fine-tuned machine.”