News Wrap: Back in campaign mode, Trump touts jobs at Boeing

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U.S. President Donald Trump greets well-wishers upon his arrival in West Palm Bech Florida, U.S. February 17, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTSZ7L0

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Fresh off his White House news conference, the president is out, touting his first four weeks in office. He flew to Florida today for the holiday weekend, with a campaign-like stop on the way there.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

LISA DESJARDINS: For President Trump with grandchildren in tow a chance to leave Washington behind.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I love South Carolina. I love it.


LISA DESJARDINS: After a roller-coaster week, he found a friendly audience at Boeing’s North Charleston plant.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re here today to celebrate American engineering and American manufacturing. We’re also here today to celebrate jobs. Jobs.

LISA DESJARDINS: Underscoring the point, Mr. Trump touted the rollout of Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner plane.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I campaigned on the promise that I will do everything in my power to bring those jobs back into America. We wanted to make much easier, it has to be much easier to manufacture in our country and much harder to leave.

LISA DESJARDINS: The president also pushed back at Boeing, telling reporters its price for the new Air Force One and that of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter are still too high, and he’s negotiating.

All of this one day after defending his record at a freewheeling White House news conference.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

LISA DESJARDINS: Today, another top Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, held his own news conference, praising the Trump agenda, but criticizing distractions.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., Majority Leader: I have been pretty candid with him, and with all of you, that I’m not a great fan of daily tweets, but what I am a fan of is what he’s been actually doing. I have not been a fan of the extra discussion that he likes to engage in. But we’re going to soldier on. We like his positions and we’re going to pursue them as vigorously as we can.

LISA DESJARDINS: Meanwhile, the president is back at the drawing boards on finding a national security adviser, after Michael Flynn was forced out. The president tweeted this morning that that — quote — “General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA, as are three others.”

Whoever it is will be choice number two, after retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down the job, calling it a — quote — “purely personal issue.” He didn’t address reports that he balked at being denied his choice of staffers. White House officials say the president may interview candidates for the post this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Tomorrow, he will hold what the White House calls a campaign event, in Melbourne, Florida.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now.

So, Lisa, campaign event? We thought it just ended.

LISA DESJARDINS: Right. No, it hasn’t. It’s just building up now.

In fact, the president himself announced that that rally in Florida will be happening as a rally, and Sean Spicer said last week that that’s going to be a campaign event.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, you were — also, you and I were talking a little while ago, Lisa, and you were saying that some of the people around the president are creating some fund-raising vehicles? Tell us about that.

LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, that’s right.

And these are the things like super PACs. We have seen the president have a super PAC before, the Great America PAC, for example. But now, in just the last weeks, some of his main campaign alums have formed one that’s called the America First, 501(c)(4).

We expect more on how much money they have next week, but they say they’re going after things like supporting Judge Gorsuch, Obamacare, all of that. And one other note about the president’s campaign. What’s so unprecedented here, Judy, is that he actually filed his campaign paperwork on January 20.

President Obama, for example, he waited two years before officially inaugurating his reelection campaign. So, this is unprecedented territory.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Really interesting. And I know reporters will continue to ask him about it.

Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency 52-46. Scott Pruitt was Oklahoma’s attorney general, and in that role, he’s repeatedly sued the EPA to rein in regulations.

Democrats tried, and failed, to delay today’s confirmation vote until Pruitt releases thousands of e-mails with oil and gas executives.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: It’s not the worst thing in the world to take a few extra days to properly vet someone who will have immense power over our nation’s streams, skies, even the lead level in our homes and water supply. Those e-mails could contain material information about his confirmation.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, R-Wyo.: Government agencies like the EPA, and one after another, need their leadership in place, and they need it in place now. What they don’t need, what the American people don’t need is more political theater from the Senate Democrats.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Pruitt was strongly opposed by environmental groups, who warn he will roll back enforcement efforts. He was sworn in this afternoon. We will take a closer look right after the news summary.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Pakistan, the military says it killed more than 100 people it calls terrorists in sweeping anti-terror raids. They came a day after a suicide bombing, claimed by the Islamic State, killed at least 88. Protesters took to the streets today to denounce weak security. Pakistan has been hit by a spate of deadly attacks in recent days.

Another Islamic State bombing killed 59 people in Iraq yesterday.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The World Meteorological Organization reports the sea ice pack in the Arctic and Antarctic was the smallest ever for the month of January. The U.N. agency also says concentrations of heat-trapping carbon dioxide hit a record.

Meanwhile, NASA satellites captured part of the ice loss. This was the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctic earlier in January. A separate image showed an iceberg the size of Manhattan that broke away on January 31.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A powerful new storm barreled into California today, bringing what could be the heaviest rain in years. The rain and high winds lashed the Southern California coastline, threatening flooding and mudslides, and forcing small-scale evacuations. The storm is expected to skirt Northern California, but officials kept watch on the Lake Oroville Dam and its damaged spillways.

WILLIAM CROYLE, California Department of Water Resources: We have a very close communication, our monitoring teams, between our incident commanders to make sure that we have all eyes on this and we’re ready to take action with our mitigation plan. I don’t see that that’s a risk at this time. But, having said that, we’re ready.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Another storm system is expected to hit Northern California late Sunday night and could bring 30 hours of precipitation.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street headed into the President’s Day weekend with a lackluster session. The Dow Jones industrial average gained four points to close at 20624. The Nasdaq rose 23 points, and the S&P 500 added almost four. For the week, all three indexes gained 1.5 percent or better.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And a passing of note. A longtime former minority leader of the House of Representatives, Bob Michel, has died. The Illinois Republican served 19 terms, but retired just before the GOP won back the majority in the House in 1994. He is credited with helping President Reagan and the first President Bush push their agendas, by negotiating with Democrats. Bob Michel was 93 years old.

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