President Trump said Friday night he’s considering invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deal with violent street protesters after Black Lives Matter activists attacked and harassed his supporters leaving the White House after the Republican National Convention.
At his first post-convention campaign rally, Mr. Trump told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, that “thugs” outside the White House attacked Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and others after they left his acceptance speech on the South Lawn early Friday morning.
“They took tremendous abuse,” Mr. Trump said. “Rand Paul was in big trouble last night. He’s a friend of mine. They walk out and they get accosted and they get abused. They get spit on. It’s a disgrace.”
The president said Mr. Paul “would be in either very bad shape or dead … and that would include his wife” if D.C. police hadn’t intervened.
He blamed Washington, D.C., Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser for allowing the “anarchists” to get close to the White House and vowed, “We’re not going to allow that to happen.”
“Our country’s going to change,” the president said. “We’re not supposed to go in, unless we call it an ‘insurrection.’ But you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have to look at it. [White House Chief of Staff] Mark Meadows is here. and we’re going to have to look at it, because we’re not going to let that happen to people that go to the White House to celebrate our country.”
Mr. Paul and his wife were attacked by demonstrators and needed a police escort to leave the area. They were not injured, although activists shoved a police officer into Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican.
Mr. Trump said he’d like to give a medal to the officers who protected Mr. Paul and his wife, Kelley.
The president has criticized Democratic mayors and governors for not asking him for help controlling rioting, which would allow the administration to deploy the National Guard and law enforcement officials.
In June, during rioting and demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the president threatened to invoke the rarely used Insurrection Act.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said at the time.
The president said the demonstrations outside the White House had nothing to do with George Floyd.
“Protesters, your ass — I don’t talk about my ass,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re agitators. … These are just bad people — troublemakers.”
Mr. Trump said Ms. Bowser “should be ashamed of herself for that kind of display of incompetence.”
“That’s what’s happening in Portland, and that’s what’s happening all over. You have Democrat-run cities,” he said.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden is only talking about the unrest in recent days because his poll numbers are falling “like a rock in water.”
The president told New Hampshire supporters that he’ll beat Mr. Biden in November.
“We’re going to win. Does anybody have any doubt?”
“NO!” the cheering crowd responded.
“The poll numbers have swung,” Mr. Trump said. “Today it was announced that Joe Biden is coming out of the basement, because the poll numbers have totally swung. It was a rapid swing.”
He taunted his rival, “Sleepy Joe said he’s coming out [to campaign] in 10 days. That’s like an eternity in Trump-ville. That’s a long time. That’s a big percentage of the remaining time. That’s all right. He’s much better off where he is.”
The president’s rally in New Hampshire took place at an airport hangar, where people supporters were outdoors and few appeared to be wearing masks. Mr. Trump recited many of his criticisms of Mr. Biden from the previous night’s nomination acceptance speech, saying the Democrat has been a failure on jobs and foreign policy in nearly a half-century in Washington.
“I believe I have the honor of running against the worst candidate ever put up by the Democrat Party,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s the worst candidate, the slowest candidate.”
He said Mr. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, is “not competent.”
“We’re not going to let our country be destroyed by a bunch of nut jobs,” Mr. Trump said.
The president blamed the media for the social unrest that has been roiling major cities this year, prompted by anger at injustices in policing.
“There’s so much racial hatred,” Mr. Trump said. “And it’s put there by CNN, ‘MSDNC’ … they stoke the flames and they know it.”
He said that the campaign rally speech was more animated than his 71-minute address to the GOP convention a night earlier.
“It’s a different kind of a speech. Tonight, I’m in New Hampshire, and we can wing it,” Mr. Trump said.