President Donald Trump made his first trip to New York City since taking office, where he gave a speech aboard the USS Intrepid and met with the prime minister of Australia for bilateral talks.
On Thursday, Trump commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea aboard the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, which has been turned into a museum parked on the Hudson River side of Manhattan.
The original schedule called for Trump to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull before making his speech, but he arrived from the White House late after celebrating the passage of a bill through the House of Representatives to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.
If victorious, Republicans will be having a big press conference at the beautiful Rose Garden of the White House immediately after vote!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2017
At the event, the president and the first lady Melania Trump sat together with Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull at the same table. Several speakers and veterans spoke about Battle of the Coral Sea, the first air-sea battle in history.
The 1942 battle was fought by Australian and American troops, who were able to cut off Japanese supply routes and win ground that would eventually lead the Allies to victory at the Battle of Midway.
The event also included several short videos depicting the alliance between Australians and Americans, which developed over centuries of fighting in wars together and trading together.
One of the videos was introduced by the Australian businessman and billionaire Anthony Pratt, who pledged to invest $2 billion in his Pratt Industries over the next 10 years, which he said would “create an additional 5,000 high paying manufacturing jobs in America, mainly in the Midwest.”
When Turnbull took the stage, he began by congratulating Trump over the health care vote. He then thanked the veterans in attendance for their service and spoke about on the bond between the two nations since the Battle of the Coral Sea.
“As we reflect on the Battle of the Coral Sea, we are reminded of how the stability and prosperity of our region over so many decades has been secured and is secured today by the United States,” Turnbull said. “A commitment to the peace and stability, the rule of law in our region, renewed by President Trump, for which we thank you, sir.”
He also condemned North Korea and vowed to “defeat and destroy terrorism in the Middle East.”
Trump was then introduced by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who said that “all Australians have a debt to the United States.” Trump thanked Murdoch, whom he called “my very good friend.”
Right away, Trump brought up the phone call that he had with Turnbull in January over a deal that was made under former President Barack Obama for the US to accept as many as 1,250 refugees from Australia.
“Everyone’s talking about this phone call,” Trump said. “The media was saying, ‘What do you think about the phone call. You didn’t really hang up? No, we had actually a very nice call. Good. Now the record is straight.” Trump then pointed to the back where the media was seated and the audience erupted in laughter.
Quickly, Trump outlined the meeting that he had with Turnbull before the event, where the two talked about national security, trade, immigration and “enhanced economic cooperation.”
Then, Trump spoke about a deal with Congress to end the “devastating cuts to the United States military.”
“I don’t know what they were thinking when they started cutting, but we’ve got it all coming back in big league, believe me,” Trump said.
The president announced that he will add more than $25 billion to the national defense budget to ensure service members have the “equipment, tools, training and resources that they need and they so richly deserve.”
At the end of his speech, Trump thanked the American Australian Association and each of the attending veterans by name.
“Americans have had no better friends that then Australians,” Trump said, adding that the two nations were like “rebellious children of the same parent.”
Before the event, a small group of protesters gathered between 43rd Street to West 46th Street on the west side highway where police blocked traffic outside the USS Intrepid. Protesters booed as the president’s motorcade pulled up to the event.
Trump only received 18 percent of the vote in the very liberal New York City during the November election. While many gathered to protest on Thursday, the crowds were much smaller than the first days of the Trump presidency, when thousands in took to the streets to protest.
A few protesters did take to the water, hanging a large sign that read “#NoTrumpNYC” off the side of the Staten Island Ferry. Activists with Greenpeace floated around the river in a dingy with signs that read, “Resist.” Activists with the Women’s March were able to light up the side of the dock with the words “THE RESISTANCE WILL NOT STOP.”
Trump was also met by many supporters, who welcomed the president with cheers.
Trump is not expected to stay in New York City long. After leaving the Intrepid, the president will not be going to his old home at Trump Tower, but will instead head to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he will likely spend the weekend, according to the Associated Press.