Trump delivers national security speech at Union League
Posted: Sep 07 2016 07:45AM EDT
Updated: Sep 07 2016 05:21PM EDT
CENTER CITY (WTXF/AP) - Donald Trump unveiled a plan to boost military spending by tens of billions of dollars, outlining a plan for major increases in the number of active troops, Navy ships and submarines, and fighter planes as he works to convince skeptics in both parties that he's ready to lead the world's most powerful military.
The Republican presidential nominee is in Philadelphia for the second time since Friday, planning for a major increase in defense spending as he works to convince skeptics in both parties he's ready to lead the world's most powerful military.
He started his speech at the Union League, at Broad and Samson streets, at about 11:30am. It was not open to the public, and protesters stood outside.
FOX 29’s Steve Keeley reported S. Broad Street was already very busy, hours before Trump’s speech. Traffic was down to one lane.
The media took up street-side parking. Cables went across the road, creating temporary speedbumps.
Pennsylvania is a very important state to win in November, and polls show the numbers between Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are close. The last day for Pennsylvanians to register to vote is Oct. 11; Nov. 1 is the last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot.
Trump said, if elected, he would rebuild the military and give leaders 30 days to formulate a plan to defeat ISIS. And he would ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct "a thorough review" of the nation's cyber defenses to determine all vulnerabilities.
The New York businessman, who has struggled at times to demonstrate a command of foreign policy, was expected to outline plans to "add substantially" to the nation's arsenal of submarines, ships and combat troops, according to a briefing provided by his campaign. Trump's address comes hours before his national security acumen is tested at a "commander in chief" forum on NBC.
He was expected to outline his plans to eliminate deep military cuts, known as the "sequester," enacted when Congress failed to reach a budget compromise in 2011.
A Trump adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share details ahead of the speech, said Trump would ensure the additional spending is fully paid for. The adviser did not explain how, but suggested there would be no need for structural budget cuts to pay for the billions of additional military spending over 10 years.
Beyond new spending on troops and naval assets, Trump will also call for additions to sea-based missile defense.
The appearances mark an intense, two-day focus on national security by Trump, who has offered tough rhetoric on the nation's challenges abroad but few details.
"I think my single greatest asset, of any assets I have, is my temperament," Trump declared in North Carolina on Tuesday, fighting to undercut arguments that his erratic disposition is a major liability.
Clinton repeated just such an attack on Trump's ability to command America's military.
"They know they can count on me to be the kind of commander in chief who will protect our country and our troops, and they know they cannot count on Donald Trump," Clinton said en route to Florida. "They view him as a danger and a risk."
While Clinton and Trump will be featured at the Wednesday night forum, they will appear at separate times and will not face each other on stage. The forum could serve as a warm-up to their highly anticipated first presidential debate, scheduled for Sept. 26 in New York.
Trump was set to deliver another speech Wednesday evening, at the convention of New York's Conservative Party, also expected to feature a heavy national security focus.
Trying to emphasize his military support, Trump's campaign released a letter on Tuesday from 88 retired generals and admirals citing an urgent need for a "course correction" in America's national security policy. It was aimed at rebutting Clinton's arguments that she would be best positioned to lead the military and reassuring Republicans who have openly worried that his provocative statements might undermine U.S. alliances.
"We believe that such a change can only be made by someone who has not been deeply involved with, and substantially responsible for, the hollowing out of our military and the burgeoning threats facing our country around the world," the military leaders wrote. "For this reason, we support Donald Trump's candidacy to be our next commander in chief."
On Tuesday night, Trump promised to convene his military commanders soon after taking office with "a simple instruction" aimed at the Islamic State group. "They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS," he told North Carolina voters.
Trump's campaign is ending its practice of barring selected news outlets from covering the Republican presidential nominee's events.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the practice would end Thursday. The campaign had barred The Washington Post, Politico, Buzzfeed, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Univision and others from covering his rallies, news conferences and other formal campaign events.
"Revoking press credentials was imprudent, pointless, and offensive from the start," said Martin Baron, the executive editor of the Post. "We're pleased to see the ban come to a long-overdue end."
Trump frequently uses the media as a foil and often complains about the press coverage he receives. He did so again Wednesday when explaining why he was ending the practice.
"I figure they can't treat me any worse!" Trump said in a statement to CNN, which first reported the ban's end.
The ban began in the early days of Trump's campaign last summer, when the celebrity businessman barred a reporter from The Des Moines Register from an event after the newspaper published an editorial calling for him to drop out of the race. Last month, he threatened to expand it to The New York Times.
"Maybe we'll start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them," Trump said of the Times at a rally in Connecticut. "When they write dishonest stories, we should be a little bit tough."
Trump did not follow through on that threat.
Journalists from the barred organizations were at times able to enter events as members of the general public, but they were sometimes escorted out after security recognized them as members of the media. In July, a Post reporter was patted down at a Mike Pence event and forced to leave.
But Pence, Trump's running mate, said he would advocate reconsidering the ban. Reporters from the barred outlets recently started taking part in what's known as the print pool, in which a single reporter from a group of newspapers and other outlets covers events that can't accommodate large numbers of reporters for all members of the group.
The end of the ban comes as Hillary Clinton, criticized repeatedly by Trump and Republican for not holding a formal news conference in months, has also increased her level of access to journalists. Starting this week, she has begun flying on the same plane the reporters who travel with campaign and held informal news conferences, known as gaggles, onboard her plane on Monday and Tuesday.
Trump also allowed reporters onto his plane for one flight this week, but has not committed to traveling with reporters full-time. That is a standard practice for the major party nominees for president, as well as the sitting president.