President Donald Trump took a victory lap on news of a 13.3% US unemployment rate Friday, beginning what he had billed as Rose Garden news conference – though he didn’t take questions – with tangent-filled remarks on the economy and taking credit for lower unemployment numbers.
Trump called the jobs report “an affirmation of all the work we’ve been doing” over the course of his administration and said earlier predictions were “the greatest miscalculation in the history of business shows.”
He compared the economy to a “body” that was “strong” but needed an operation, and said it is now “a rocketship.”
While the numbers still reflect enormous levels of American unemployment, the jobless rate improved from the dramatic 14.7% in April, which was the worst rate since monthly record keeping began in 1948. The US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, after 20.7 million positions vanished in April.
The good news in the jobs report comes as the nation faces social unrest during economic and health crises. In one sign of systemic inequality, black unemployment, at 16.8%, remains significantly higher than white unemployment, at 12.4%.
While many Americans have looked inward at injustice in the country, Trump has spent part of his morning retweeting more than 100 times from more than 25 Republican senators. Those retweets come one day after he vowed to campaign for literally any Republican candidate – “good or bad” – “with a pulse” against Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been critical of him. Also on Thursday, Trump tweeted a letter from his lawyer that referred to the protesters forcibly dispersed near the White House ahead of a photo opportunity as “terrorists.”
The White House is fortified ahead of a second weekend of expected protests, with a new layer of fencing the Secret Service says will be up through June 10.
Economists had expected the unemployment rate to be even worse in May, rising to nearly 20%. But the gradual reopening of the economy actually added new jobs rather than eliminating further positions.
He touted progress on the coronavirus vaccine front, cited the country’s clean air and clean water, compared the Green New Deal to “baby talk,” railed against governors that continue to lock down, and claimed his poll numbers are “looking really good.”
Trump also criticized China, saying he views the trade deal “a little bit differently,” but “they are buying a lot.”
Amid ongoing protests, Trump urged governors to call in the National Guard.
“Call me, we’ll be ready for them so fast their heads will spin,” he said, noting success in Minneapolis, criticizing the city’s mayor.
In one of the more bizarre tangents of the President’s wide-ranging speech in the Rose Garden, he suggested he’ll travel to New York with first lady Melania Trump in an RV.
“It’s great, people are traveling. And you know what? They’re traveling in the United States. And they’re also driving, And they’re building the trailers, they’re building a lot of things, they’re driving … I may have to buy one of those things, drive around town. Maybe we’ll drive back to New York with our first lady in a trailer,” Trump said.
He turned to Vice President Mike Pence for an assist.
“What do you call that?” he asked, to which Pence said, “An RV.”
“Well, you should know, Indiana’s the capital of RVs. I think I’m gonna buy an RV and travel in an RV with our first lady,” Trump said.
CNN’s Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.