Na­tion: Trump tells the troops, ‘We’re win­ning.’

In video con­fer­ence and visit, pres­i­dent cred­its ser­vices for jobs in ac­tion, with dis­as­ter aid

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Colvin

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump thanked U. S. troops for their ser­vice on Thurs­day, as­sur­ing them “we’re re­ally win­ning” against Amer­ica’s foes as he cel­e­brated Thanks­giv­ing at his pri­vate club in Florida and pro­vided lunch for Coast Guard men and women on duty for the hol­i­day.

Us­ing the oc­ca­sion to pat him­self on the back, Trump told de­ployed mil­i­tary mem­bers via a video con­fer­ence that they’ve achieved more progress in Afghanistan and against the Is­lamic State group un­der his watch than had been made in years of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Ev­ery­body’s talk­ing about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up,” he told the 1st Bri­gade Com­bat Team of the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion, whose mem­bers are con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions in Kan­da­har, Afghanistan. “We’re be­ing talked about again as an armed forces — we’re re­ally win­ning.”

Speak­ing from a gilded room at his Mar- a-Lago club, Trump said: “We’re not fight­ing any­more to just walk around, we’re fight­ing to win, and you peo­ple are re­ally, you’ve turned it around over the last three to four months like no­body’s seen, and they are talk­ing about it, so thank you very much.”

Turn­ing to the 74th Ex­pe­di­tionary Fight­ers Squadron based at the In­cir­lik Air Base in Tur­key, Trump sug­gested the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion hadn’t al­lowed sol­diers on the ground to do their jobs.

“They say we’ve made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said. “And that’s be­cause I’mlet­ting you do your job.”

Through­out the day — at events and on Twit­ter — Trump boasted about the econ­omy’s per­for­mance since he took of­fice, point­ing to re­cent stock mar­ket gains and the un­em­ploy- ment rate, along with his ef­forts to scale back reg­u­la­tions and boost mil­i­tary spend­ing.

“So you’re fight­ing for some­thing real, you’re fight­ing for some­thing good,” he told the ser­vice mem­bers

Trump and his wife, Me- la­nia, also made a trip to a nearby Coast Guard sta­tion in Riviera Beach, Florida, where they de­liv­ered a lunch of tur­key sand­wiches, gi­ant muffins, heap­ing bas­kets of fruit, chips and cook­ies to men and women on duty for the hol­i­days.

Dur­ing his re­marks, Trump, sin­gled out the ser­vice for its hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­forts dur­ing Har­vey and the other storms that bat­tered the coun­try ear­lier this year.

“There’s no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard,” Trump told them “What a job you’ve done.”

Trump praised the su­pe­ri­or­ity of U. S. mil­i­tary equip­ment, too, yet said he tries to make sure that equip­ment the U. S. sells abroad — even to al­lies — is not quite as good as that kept at home.

“I al­ways say, make ours a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” Trump said. “Keep about 10 per­cent in the bag.” He added: “You never know about an ally. An ally can turn.”

At the ear­lier video con­fer­ence, Trump cleared the room of press af­ter about 10 min­utes so he could have “very con­fi­den­tial, per­sonal con­ver­sa­tions” with those on the line. Bor­row­ing a line from his “Ap­pren­tice” days, he told the re­porters “You’re fired,” then wished them a happy Thanks­giv­ing, too.

ALEX BRAN­DON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump thanked and praised Amer­i­can troops on Thurs­day in a video con­fer­ence and in a hol­i­day visit. Above, Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump, greet and hand out sand­wiches for Thanks­giv­ing to mem­bers of the U.S. Coast Guard at the Lake Worth In­let Sta­tion in Riviera Beach, Fla.

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