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President Donald Trump took aim at the Green New Deal touted by freshman lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in his first true campaign speech of the 2020 election cycle, unveiling a line of attack that seems destined to be a staple of his campaign stump speech.
"I really don't like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of 'let's hop a train to California,' of you're not allowed to own cows anymore!" Trump said at a large rally Monday night in El Paso, Texas.
"It would shut down American energy, which I don't think the people in Texas are going to be happy with," Trump said elsewhere in the speech, eliciting cheers from the audience of more than 5,000. "It would shut down a little thing called air travel. How do you take a train to Europe?"
Trump appears to have seized on a line from an informal page of FAQs about the Green New Deal, released last week by Ocasio-Cortez, one of the congressional resolution's co-sponsors, which specifically referred to cows and airplanes.
The line said lawmakers had set a goal of "net-zero" emissions in a decade rather than zero emissions at all, "because we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast."
The Green New Deal would not actually do any of these things Trump claimed it will do – although it does contain proposals to drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, to which methane-producing cows and commercial air travel are both major contributors.
The plan might not get much traction in Congress, to begin with. While it was met with support from some of the Democratic caucus' more liberal members, it received a cool reception from leadership. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico recently that the plan will be "one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive" on how best to combat climate change.
The actual details of the Democrats' plan, however, are likely to be of relatively little importance to Trump as he begins to hone the rhetoric that will become his campaign stump speech for the next two years.
Alongside the lines about airplanes and cows, there were two more pillars emerging in Trump's stump speech Monday night that are likely to remain in his arsenal through 2020: The first was a pledge to fight the rise of socialism in America, and protect the United States from becoming like Venezuela, which is currently in the grips of economic collapse under an oppressive socialist regime.
The second was a promise that Trump would stop what he claimed were efforts by some Democrats to "execute babies." Trump claimed in El Paso on Monday that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam would "allow a newborn baby to come out into the world and wrap the baby and make the baby comfortable, and then talk to the mother, and talk to the father and then execute the baby. Execute the baby. Incredible."
Trump's descriptions of these issues, much like his warning about the Green New Deal, were not factually true. Yet, like the majority of Trump's hyperbolic statements, they were all rooted in grains of truth.
In the case of socialism, several prominent Democrats in recent years have self-identified as "democratic socialists," including newly elected Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is considering another run for president in 2020. The label offered Trump a rhetorical gateway through which to paint the whole party as "socialists."
As for Northam, the governor initially said on a radio show last month that a bill before the state legislature would permit an already-delivered newborn to be "resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."
Northam's office later clarified that his comments referred only to a situation in which a woman with a "nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities went into labor."
Trump, however, jumped at the opportunity to use the confusion over Northam's comments to paint all Democrats as supporting the "execution" of newborn babies.