CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Friday, three days after his State of the Union address, President Trump traveled to North Carolina to drive home one of the speech’s major themes.
“This is a blue collar boom,” Mr. Trump said, repeating what he told Congress was responsible for “the great American comeback.” He added, “Boom!”
Mr. Trump’s visit to a job summit at a community college here gave the president a chance to celebrate a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, the latest jobs numbers showing that employers added 255,000 jobs in January and the 2017 tax bill, the key components of what is expected to be the centerpiece of his re-election campaign, the economy.
He also boasted about his poll numbers, the 2016 election, his relationship with China, soldiers coming home and criminal justice reform. Mr. Trump derided Democrats over their trade policies and the chaos during the Iowa Caucus on Monday, and he dismissed the “failed impeachment hoax.”
Mr. Trump made no mention that he intended to dismiss two key witnesses in the House hearings that led to his impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, an adviser on Ukraine on the National Security Council, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.
His focus was economic development. Mr. Trump highlighted the more than 8,700 economically distressed areas designated by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as “opportunity zones” and the tax incentives offered to business leaders and investors who put money into them.
“Opportunity zones are amazing,” Mr. Trump said. “Tremendous amounts of money are being put into areas that have not received money for decades and decades.”
Mr. Trump also singled out low unemployment rates for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and women. He lauded his own criminal justice reform efforts and his support for historically black colleges and universities.
The president also expressed frustration over African-Americans’ support for Democrats.
“You’ve been with the Democrats for a hundred years, one hundred and twelve to be exact, and they treat you badly,” Mr. Trump said. “They only come around two months before the election, and then right after the election, they say, ‘Bye bye, we’ll see you in two years.’”
Ben Carson, the housing secretary and the only African-American in the president’s cabinet, said Mr. Trump is driven to help low-income communities because of his kindness and compassion. He said that the president is not given credit for his achievements and that Mr. Trump has been wrongly called a racist and deemed guilty of “everything under the sun.”
“But let me tell you what he’s really guilty of,” Mr. Carson said. “He is guilty of creating a dynamic economy that is working for everybody. He is guilty of creating a military that is so strong that it can’t be challenged by anyone. He is guilty of recognizing how important it is to have a Space Force. He is guilty of trade agreements that have leveled the playing field.”