CINCINNATI, Ohio — Less than an hour after Attorney General Lynch recommended no charges against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump spoke at length about almost everything else.
What began as a point-by-point take down of the inconsistencies in the former secretary of state’s statements about her server versus what was found by the FBI quickly devolved into a loop-the-loop of tangents, grievances and alternative headlines.
Addressing for the first time since tweeting, and then replacing, a graphic that featured a six point symbol resembling a Jewish Star of David, Trump characteristically doubled down. The GOP presumptive nominee continued to maintain that it “could’ve been a star for anything” and even lamented that it was taken down by his campaign staff.
“You shouldn’t have taken it down,” Trump said. “They took the star down. I said too bad, you should have left it up. I would have rather defended it. Just leave it up. And say no, that’s just a star.”
Trump later tweeted out a photo of a “Frozen” sticker book with a similar symbol, this time in fuchsia. “Where is the outrage for this Disney book?” he asked the “dishonest media” and his nine million followers. “Is this the ‘Star of David’ also?”
Calling out (once again!) the “unbelievably dishonest media,” Trump blamed the press Wednesday for “racially profiling” the original tweet and defended Social Media Director Dan Scavino as “a very fine person,” noting that Scavino’s wife is Jewish. The press, Trump spat, “they’re sick.”
The New York businessman also lashed out at the media over coverage of hispraising Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. “I wake up, I turn on the television: Donald Trump loves Saddam Hussein. He loves Saddam Hussein…That’s not what I said. That’s not what I said. So that’s the narrative that goes around.”
Attempting to clean up past claims that Hussein was good at killing terrorists despite being a “really bad guy,” Trump on Wednesday spoke at length about the dictator only to land in about the same place as he did one night earlier. “I don’t love Saddam Hussein. I hate Saddam Hussein,” Trump said unequivocally. “But he was damn good at killing terrorists.”
Trump did manage to get in a few jabs about the just-in attorney general’s decision not to pursue charges against Hillary Clinton, once again baselessly accusing Clinton of bribing Loretta Lynch and attacking her for the speed of her decision regarding the emails. “Boy that was a fast determination,” Trump opined. “Could’ve waited a little longer,” he said, wondering if maybe they should’ve “talked about it a little bit.”
The Republican’s stump speech meandered between memories of the the primary battles that brought him here and a rehashing of a recent campaign trip to Scotland, as well as the candidate’s ability to divine the Brexit decision. “I was right,” Trump reminded. “They broke away.”
At one point, when Trump was interrupted by a fly that flew near him, he bellowed: “I don’t like mosquitoes!” Then, swatting at the bug and landing arguably his most direct hit on Hillary Clinton so far, Trump said “speaking of mosquitoes, hello Hillary, how are you doing?”
Overshadowed by Trump’s alternative headlines: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s vice presidential audition. Gingrich played the role of party unifier Wednesday, pressing Ohio Gov. John Kasich to “get on the Trump bandwagon.” Compared to Sen. Bob Corker’s quiet presence one night earlier in North Carolina, Gingrich was an equal partner in Trump’s show – with the candidate teasing from the stage that “in one form or another” Gingrich will be involved in a Trump administration.
“I used to study and teach history, I spent a little bit of time in politics,” Gingrich told the thousands gathered at the Ohio rally. “I have never— I know of no example in American history of a moment where the leader and the American people came together as fast as they have in the last year with Donald Trump.”
Gingrich also showcased his ability to hit Secretary Clinton, suggesting she should “be facing a grand jury and not an election” over her use of private email servers during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Gingrich called FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend charges against Clinton, a “total sellout of the American system,” and said he couldn’t “imagine a more vivid proof of corruption.”
“Is there a single person here who believes that if you had done what Hillary Clinton had done, that you would not be prosecuted,” Gringrich asked the raucous crowd. “So they’re once again making the case that there are two Americas: there’s the corrupt Washington of the old order, and there are all the rest of us,” he said. “And I say to you: enough!”
The two men opened the rally with a Facebook Live video that lasted less than a minute. “This is magic,” Gingrich said holding the phone selfie-style. “So you’re now on Facebook.”
“Wow, that’s fantastic,” Trump relied.