Outside of Washington, Trump slips back into campaign mode

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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

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

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After four tumultuous weeks of governing, President Donald Trump is out of the White House doing what he loves best — campaigning.

Trump will hold a campaign rally at an airport hangar in central Florida on Saturday afternoon. The event in Melbourne comes as he seeks to regain his footing following a series of crises that have threatened his young administration.

For Trump, the rally offers an opportunity to recapture the energy of his upstart campaign and to connect with his supporters. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wants to “speak directly to people across this county in an unfiltered way, in a way that doesn’t have any bias.”

Trump also plans to meet this weekend with potential candidates to replace ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn — retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward — turned down the offer.

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Trump plans to interview John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster for the job, according to a White House official. The official said both meetings will take place over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he “will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House.”

The president had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but another White House official said Saturday he was not a finalist for the position.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the interview process publicly and requested anonymity.

Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Trump also continued his rants against the news media Saturday, tweeting: “Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”

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During an appearance Friday at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, Trump slipped back into his campaign’s “America First” message with ease.

“America is going to start winning again, winning like never ever before,” he said, as the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. “We’re not going to let our country be taken advantage of anymore in any way, shape or form.”

Big rowdy rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of the transition, during what he called a “thank you” tour.

The event Saturday is being put on by Trump’s campaign, rather than the White House. Asked if it was a rally for the 2020 election, Sanders called it “a campaign rally for America.” Trump himself promoted his appearance on Twitter on Friday: “Looking forward to the Florida rally tomorrow. Big crowd expected!”

Since taking office, Trump has lurched from one problem to the next, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.

Trump’s reset effort started Thursday with a marathon press conference where he defended his administration and denounced the “criminal” leaks that took down his top national security adviser. He used the platform to complain about the political press and to brag that his administration was a “fine-tuned machine.”

The post Outside of Washington, Trump slips back into campaign mode appeared first on PBS NewsHour.