Donald Trump gave a speech on Tuesday to Turning Point USA, which he described as “some of the greatest and smartest young people on the planet”.
That’s a debatable characterization.
Both Charlie Kirk (Turning Point’s founder) and Candace Owens (the group’s former director of communications) are right-wing darlings in the Trump era, despite being controversial and, some say, wholly cartoonish, figures. The group has seized the spotlight in 2019 with Kirk and Owens scoring speaking time at CPAC. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel described the duo as “rising stars”, who are “the future of the party”, earlier this year.
Owens is perhaps best known for a dubious soundbite in which she mounted a bizarre pseudo-defense of Adolph Hitler. You can watch that clip in our CPAC recap, from March. Owens eventually stepped down from her Turning Point role under pressure for saying Hitler was an “OK” leader.
Predictably, Trump used his Tuesday speech to the group to lash out at Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. When he mentioned AOC, he flashed the infamous white power hand signal that landed Marine Le Pen in hot water earlier this year.
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Trump will doubtlessly claim he was simply making the letter “O”, but skeptics will abound.
Le Pen made the same gesture while posing for a selfie with the far-right Estonian lawmaker Ruuben Kaalep and was forced to disavow it later. “It isn’t a white supremacist gesture, it’s a gesture that means ‘O.K.’”, she explained. Nobody was convinced.
You can draw your own conclusions, but before you write this off as nothing, we would encourage anyone interested to Google the hand gesture – it is “a thing”, so to speak.
The president went on to call Tlaib a “vicious crazed lunatic” and maligned those who voted for the congresswoman. “She’s screaming – who elected her?”, he wondered.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump delivered another wild tirade against Omar on Twitter. “In 2016 I almost won Minnesota. In 2020, because of America hating anti-Semite Rep. Omar, & the fact that Minnesota is having its best economic year ever, I will win the State!”, he said.
As we detailed on Friday, Trump’s claims about being the best thing to ever happen to Minnesota economically are exaggerated, at best. His characterization of Omar as an “America hating anti-Semite” is patently false and wholly despicable.
During his speech at Turning Point, the president goaded the crowd into loudly booing the press.
Bear in mind, this was an event for children. Specifically, it was the “teen student action summit”.
As you can see, the “actions” the president is encouraging (both implicitly and explicitly) aren’t necessarily compatible with American values. Or at least not as most people (including traditional conservatives) understand them.