Jan 21, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump ignores impeachment, touts economy in campaign-style Davos speech

Photo: Facrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND — President Trump diverged sharply from the tone of this week's World Economic Forum in at least two ways during his opening session speech on Tuesday — he was exuberant about the state of the U.S. economy and dismissive of the threat from climate change.

Between the lines: Trump didn't mention impeachment in a campaign-style address in which he claimed to have launched a U.S. "economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before."

The big picture: He also lambasted "prophets of doom" — an apparent reference to climate activists like Greta Thunberg, with whom he is sharing top billing in Davos.

  • After heralding a boom in U.S. oil and gas, Trump said the U.S. was committed to "ensuring the majesty of God's creation," but added that "now is not the time for pessimism."
  • "We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers."

As expected, Trump celebrated his trade deal with Canada and Mexico as well as the "phase one" trade agreement with China.

  • He strained credulity by claiming to have clinched "the two biggest trade deals ever made" in the span of a week, insisting the economy was in a "dismal state" when he took power.
  • At the heart of his speech was a claim to have revolutionized the American economy over three years with a "blue collar boom" that was only just beginning — a message perhaps tailored more for Detroit than Davos.
  • Trump also took the opportunity to bash the Federal Reserve, which he said "has raised rates too fast and lowered them too slowly."

On China, Trump said Beijing's economic practices had been "getting worse and worse" under his predecessors but would now be reined in.

  • He added the U.S.-China relationship "went through a rough patch" but "has never, ever been better."
  • Of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said: "He’s for China, I’m for the U.S., but other than that we love each other."

In the room: Trump entered and exited to applause, but was only applauded during the speech when he mentioned a commitment to plant one trillion trees. Attendees occasionally chuckled and shook their heads at some of his brasher pronouncements.

  • He did not take any questions.

What's next: The president's schedule in Davos includes meetings with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Go deeper: What's worrying the Davos crowd

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