In his first visit to Colorado since he won the election in 2016, President Donald Trump congratulated and celebrated Air Force Academy graduates Thursday at Falcon Stadium.
“Nothing will stop you from victory,” Trump told the graduates. “Nothing will stop the U.S. Air Force. And with your help, nothing ever, ever will stop the United States of America.”
A president known for off-the-script soliloquies, Trump stuck largely to his prepared remarks on this occasion, telling 989 Air Force Academy graduates that “the sound of American warplanes is the righteous sound of American justice.”
On an overcast afternoon, Trump was cheered loudly when he walked into the stadium, when he was introduced and when he spoke. Fans of the president shouted their messages of support at every interval, with the loudest cheers reserved for his praise of the military and its strength.
The academy has taught cadets “to win, win, win. To win so much, you’re going to get so tired of winning but not really,” Trump said as he faced the mountains. “Not really. We never get tired of winning, do we? No.”
The president allowed himself a few breaks from his script to praise individual cadets and invite them on stage. “I want to feel this guy’s muscles,” he said of a college home run derby champion in the graduating class.
“A lot of good-looking people in this school, I have to say,” he said later.
Trump’s usual asides about the economy or politics were largely absent from the speech. Even the news media, a common target, received only a brief mention.
“You are ready to fly, fight and win. Always win. Always,” Trump said at one point before turning to a commander. “We’re always ready, right general? Always ready.” Trump then wondered aloud how the news media would use his remark, before shrugging it off. “Let them think whatever they want to think.”
After touting America’s military might, Trump said: “No longer will we sacrifice American interests to any foreign power. We don’t do that anymore.” He said the military is developing weapons “the likes of which you’ve never seen, the likes of which you can’t even conceive.”
With Thursday’s speech, Trump enters the Air Force Academy’s storied list of commencement speakers, alongside presidents dating to John F. Kennedy. Trump’s appearance lacked the oddities of George W. Bush chest-bumping cadets in 2008 and a Thunderbird pilot ejecting during Barack Obama’s visit in 2016.
In 1963, Kennedy used his commencement speech here to call for the development of supersonic civilian aircraft. Six years later, President Richard Nixon gave a far more aggressive speech, telling graduates that it was “open season on the armed forces” during Vietnam War protests.
Trump remained focused on the graduates’ achievements and U.S. military might.
“You truly make America proud,” he told cadets. “You make us all proud, great job. Great job.”
The Colorado Democratic Party and some Democratic candidates in the state criticized the president’s visit to the conservative Colorado Springs area. The party said in a statement: “President Trump’s dangerous and divisive agenda has made him deeply unpopular in Colorado.”
Republicans inside Falcon Stadium and outside it praised Trump’s remarks.
“Coloradans are thriving under President Trump’s leadership, and his America First agenda will continue to deliver for working families in Colorado,” the state Republican Party said in a statement.
Trump’s graduation ceremony appearance was the second visit to the Front Range by a family member this month. Ivanka Trump, an adviser to her father, was scheduled to visit Lockheed Martin in early May to highlight workforce development efforts. Instead, she met with first responders after the fatal shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7.
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