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Trump greets Charlotte crowd. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Imagine the agony and contortions another politician might have gone through if a signature chant from his rallies ("CNN SUCKS") was found emblazoned on the van of a rabid supporter charged with mailing bombs to political opponents?

Not Trump. At a rally last night at Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C., the president started with a line that could have come from any president: "These terrorist actions must be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law."

"​Political violence must never, ever be allowed in America, and I will do everything in my power to stop it," Trump continued, to crowd cheers.

  • "In recent days, we've had a broader conversation about the tone and civility of our national dialogue. Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. [Crowd cheers.] We must unify as a nation in peace, love, and in harmony."

Whoa! A new Trump?

The crowd of 9,000 was in no mood for that, and Trump took the cue.

  • So he played the hits, from "Crooked Hillary Clinton" (with "Lock her up!" chants from the crowd) to Rep. Maxine Waters, one of the intended bomb recipients. Trump didn't add his usual derogatory descriptions of Waters: "I’m trying to be nice."

Trump lectured the media, prompting chants of "CNN sucks!" when he said:

  • "The media has a major role to play ... as far as tone. [Crowd cheers.] ... [T]he media's constant, unfair coverage, deep hostility [Boo!] and negative attacks ... only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate."
  • "For example, we have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party." [Crowd boos.]

On the South Lawn before he took off for Charlotte, Trump was asked if he was at all to blame.

  • "No, not at all," Trump replied. "There’s no blame."
  • "The Republicans had tremendous momentum, and then, of course, this happened, where all that you people talked about was that. And rightfully so. It was a big thing. ... But now we have to start the momentum again."
  • "I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up."
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Go deeper

Biden gets mixed grades on revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is getting mixed marks for his reliance on industry insiders to staff his administration during its first 100 days.

Why it matters: Progressives have leaned on the new president to limit the revolving door between industry and government. A new report from the Revolving Door Project praises him on that front but highlights key hires it deems ethically questionable.

Exclusive: Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

Sen. Chris Coons. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 insurrection was a "shock to the system," propelling members of Congress toward the goal of shoring up America's ability to compete with China, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios during an interview Thursday.

Why it matters: Competition between China's authoritarian model and the West's liberal democratic one is likely to define the 21st century. A bipartisan response would help the U.S. present a united front.

By the numbers: States weighing voting changes

Data: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; Cartogram: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Georgia is not alone in passing a law adding voting restrictions, but other states are seeing a surge in provisions and proposals that would expand access to the polls, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Driving the news: Just Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have been released from prison.