Tonight President Donald Trump, First-Lady Melania Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and Second-Lady Karen Pence, together with the cabinet, attend the 2019 Governors’ Ball in Washington DC.
President Trump delivers remarks to the audience:
[Transcript] “This has been really a great couple of days. We’ve had a lot of fun together. We’ve gotten to know each other, we’ve gotten to like each other in almost all cases. Let’s see – one or two cases – every case. [Laughter] Every single case.
“I just want to thank Vice President Mike Pence and our Second Lady, Karen, thank you very much. And I especially want to thank our really great Cabinet for being here. We have most members of the cabinet and our great new Attorney General, Bill Barr, and Mrs Barr, thank you very much.
“Our country is doing very, very well. We are doing record business, we’re doing record employment right now. We have the most people working in our country ever in the history of our country, close to 160 million people.
“That’s a big thing and I’ll give you a little advance information. I see Steve Mnuchin’s here and Ambassador Lighthizer, we’ve just had a big meeting with China, we just put out a statement and we’re doing very well with China. It was a long weekend; they decided to stay for two and half more days. They’ll probably be leaving late tonight. They’re going back and if all works well, we’re going to have some very big news over the next week or two. And it’s really been terrific. I tell you that the whole relationship has been outstanding. We’ve put ourselves into a position of strength for the first time in about 35 years, or probably a lot more than that.
“But China’s been terrific. We want to make a deal that’s great for both countries and that’s really what we’re going to be doing and I think as governors, most of you, many of you are governors and doing an incredible job, and so many have come up and said, ‘How are you doing with China?’ which is a very unusual question for people to come up and ask, almost everyone. ‘Sir, how are you doing with China?’ because it affects your state so much.
“China is everywhere and I think you’d really amazed with what you see. Maybe. Let’s see what happens. We still have a little ways to go. Would you say that’s correct, Mr Ambassador? We have a little bit. But I want thank you, Bob, you’ve been working 24 hours around the clock and I will say this publicly, when I was able to be lucky enough to win the presidency I called Bob Lighthizer because for years people have known he’s the greatest trader that we have on this type of trade – we have many different types of trade – and I really understand now why. Thank you very much. Fantastic.
“Also, I was going to leave very early tomorrow, but now I’m going to do it a little bit later. I had an option to do it at six in the morning or 11 and I chose 11. I can spend a little bit of time with you tomorrow morning because you’re having a breakfast and I’ll come to the breakfast. But literally, I said what kind of an option is that, I can leave at six in the morning or 11? They said you can leave at six or anywhere between 11 and 12. I said I’ll take 11 to 12. But you’re having a breakfast so I’ll be with you at the breakfast.”
“But we’ll be leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam, and we’ll be meeting with Kim Jong-un. It’s a very interesting thing to say but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means but he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.
“The media sometimes will say, well, what have they given up? We’ve given up nothing. The sanctions are on, everything’s on, but we have a special feeling and I think it’s going to lead to something very good and maybe now.
I think ultimately it will, but maybe not, and I’m not pushing for speed but we’re not removing the sanctions. And we’re going to have, I think, a very interesting two and half days in Vietnam and we have a chance for the total denuclearization of an area of the world that was very dangerous.
“When I first came in, or really more particularly at the end of the last administration, there were rockets going up, there were missiles going up, there were bombs going off, there were massive cannons being tested. If you ever saw the picture of the beach, I’ve never seen anything like it where you had literally thousands of cannons on the beach shooting out into the waters. And there was nuclear testing. In fact, they thought it was earthquakes. They said there are massive earthquakes and then they realized it was North Korea. They said wow, it’s maybe not an earthquake. Now there’s no testing, there’s no rockets, there’s no nuclear testing and we get along well, very well, so it will be very interesting to see.
“As I tell Chairman Kim, he has a chance to have a country that is so vibrant economically. Maybe one of the most in the world. He’s got a location that’s unbelievable. As a real estate person, I’ve always done well with location, but he’s right between China, Russia and on the other side South Korea, so they can’t touch each other unless they go through North Korea. And I say, you have one of the greatest locations, they have incredible people, hardworking people, smart, energetic, and I think it could be really one of the great financial and economic countries anywhere in the world. So I tell him that but I said you can’t do that if you’re going to keep nuclear. If you do nuclear, that can’t ever happen.
“And we see eye to eye, I believe, but you’ll be seeing it more and more over the next couple of days, one way or the other. What’s going to happen, I can’t tell you. I think eventually it would but I can’t tell you and I’m not in a rush, I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy. So we’ve done really something, I think, very special with respect to North Korea and it’s a long flight and I’ll be back at the end of the week. But we have two very interesting days planned and I think it’s a very important thing.
“Prime Minister Abe of Japan said he can’t believe what’s happened in such a short period of time because rockets were being fired over Japan: rockets and missiles both. And now that hasn’t happened in long time, 16 months, 17 months, no more testing, no more rockets, no more checking to see whether or not this stuff works. So you’ll be seeing it and I think it’s going to be very interesting for people but there’s a chance to do something very, very special. It’s very exciting.
“And likewise, if we can do a great economic deal, it will be the largest trade deal ever made by far if you look at it, our deal with China, and we truly are very close. So those are a couple of very interesting things. But our country’s doing incredibly well economically. We’ve pick up in terms of value worth $18 trillion.
Now China – I don’t want this – but China has lost about $24 trillion. So they were catching us, catching us, catching us, and now we’ve zoomed out. And I can say this: as long as I’m president, they’re not going catch us, and they’re going to do well – but I want them to do well, they’re not going to catch us.
“So I just want to give a toast to the incredible people in this room and to our unbelievable country. We have a very, very special country. I want to thank our First Lady for having done – this is such a beautiful job. Melania, thank you very much. And I would like to ask Governor Bullock to come up please from a very special place that I like very much for the obvious reason. And perhaps you could give a toast, please.
Thank you, governor.”
POTUS handed over to Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who began with a joke: “Thanks so much, Mr President. Your flight options are still a little bit better than flying to Montana.”
Bullock went on to give a toast. He observed: “I look around this room and I see people about as far from each other on the political spectrum as you can get.” He made a plea for unity, saying: “We need to find ways to put partisanship aside.”
A prayer was said.