Trump gets out of Washington, shifting from rocky start

Associated Press |

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump sought to shift the focus away from the rocky launch of his administration Friday, getting out of Washington for campaign-style events to energize supporters and talk up factory jobs.

Trump flew to South Carolina, where Boeing is rolling out the first 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft from its assembly line. From there, he'll continue to Florida, spending time at his estate in Palm Beach and holding one of his signature rallies Saturday in central Florida.

The trip follows a marathon news conference Thursday that appeared to be the start of an effort to galvanize a White House that has been buffeted by crisis and paralyzed by dysfunction.

Trump said Friday on Twitter that he was going to South Carolina "in order to spend time with Boeing and talk jobs!" President Barack Obama made a similar trip in 2012, visiting a Boeing plant in Washington state to view some of the 787s under assembly.

At the raucous news conference, Trump denounced the "criminal" leaks that took down his top national security adviser and revived questions about his own ties to Russia.

He is still trying to stabilize his national security team. On Monday, he demanded the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn following revelations that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn's contacts with Russia. Trump's first choice to replace Flynn — Vice Admiral Robert Harward — turned down the offer.

Trump also tweeted Friday that "General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA — as are three others." Kellogg, who is serving as the acting national security adviser, traveled to South Carolina with Trump aboard Air Force One.

Also on the trip were Trump daughter Ivanka; her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump; White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and strategist Steve Bannon.

The White House said Trump might interview national security candidates while at his estate.

He is holding a campaign-style rally Saturday in Florida, his first one as president. The event at an airport hangar in Melbourne will be 1,354 days before the 2020 election.

Huge rallies were the hallmark of Trump's presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of his transition, during what he called a "thank you" tour.

The Florida rally comes as he makes his third weekend trip this month to what he calls his "Winter White House," his Mar-a-Lago resort. The White House has not responded to questions about why Trump is putting on this event or who is paying for it.

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