May 29, 2016
Donald Trump told the annual rally of motorcyclists in Washington that as president, he would make the U.S. military “bigger and bigger” and force allies such as Saudi Arabia and Japan to pay the full cost of American military protection.
“We protect Japan. We protect Saudia Arabia,” the Republican presidential candidate said, adding that both countries are wealthy enough to pay for their own defense.
“It’s going to be a whole new ballgame,” he told the crowd. “We send them wheat. They send us cars. I’m not angry at them. I’m angry at our grossly incompetent president who allowed this to happen.”
Last week, President Obama said foreign leaders he had spoken to were “rattled” by Trump’s rise. They are “not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements,” he said. Trump’s comments “display either ignorance of world affairs, or a cavalier attitude, or an interest in getting tweets and headlines.”
The Rolling Thunder rally has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition in Washington since the mid-1980s. It was founded by Vietnam War veterans who wanted to draw attention to the cause of service members who were missing in action.
Trump is not a military veteran — and says he prefers limousines to motorcycles — but his message seemed to appeal to the crowd gathered near the Lincoln Memorial.
“We have to rebuild our military. It’s been decimated,” he said. “We’re going to make it bigger and bigger — and take care of our veterans.”
At one point, he said “illegal immigrants are taken better care of than our veterans. We’re not going to allow that to happen.”
Trump said some of his rallies have been disrupted by “agitators” who are “professionals,” but he added that he did not expect any such problem at the rally of bikers.
Critics have accused Trump of inciting violence against protestors at his rallies.