President Donald Trump berated members of the media while painting himself as a victim in a wide-ranging speech in front of loud and raucous supporters Tuesday night in Arizona.
While Trump railed inside, NPR reports police used pepper-spray to disperse protesters who had gathered outside the Phoenix Convention Center to protest Trump and what many of them believe he has come to stand for.
Trump made sure to devote plenty of time to the recent controversy stemming from an “alt-right” rally held in Charlottesville, where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed while protesting against white supremacists.
The president was roundly criticized for his words and actions in the aftermath of the tragedy when many perceived his statements on the issue to be siding with the white supremacists who staged the demonstration and were responsible for the deadly violence.
Later in the speech, the president turned his attention to the issue of the border wall that he made a staple in his presidential platform while still a candidate.
According to CNN, the president ultimately threatened to shut down the entire government unless Congress comes up with the funds needed to support the costly endeavor.
“Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.
After vigorously criticizing longtime Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is now battling cancer, and other members of his own party, Trump turned his attention back to the issue of the racial tension now gripping the nation, booming “the only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news.”
As the president railed, police closed in on protesters, using gas canisters, pepper-spray, and flash-grenades to disperse the crowd.
Critics and pundits all agreed Trump’s fiery rhetoric was purely aimed at for his base as his position has dramatically fallen in several of the swing states that were key to his upset win over Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.
And yet the president’s words were artfully crafted, with him electing to omit many of the fieriest and most controversial words he used in the early hours after Charlottesville to further paint the picture of his victimization at the hands of the by media.
Outside the Phoenix Convention Center where the president spoke, another group of protesters was seen marching toward the state capital, with many of them chanting “Donald Trump has got to go” and “this is what democracy looks like” in unison.
At one point in the speech, the president also hinted that he may be leaning toward granting a pardon to now-convicted former local sheriff Joe Arpaio. The controversial lawmaker was recently found guilty of defying a court order restricting his department’s immigration searches.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]