Trump makes impromptu appearance at White House women’s panel

Posted on: January 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at a White House event for women on Tuesday, thanking the women for attending and making a brief but wide-ranging speech with points on the economy and DACA.

The event, “Conversations with the Women of America,” hosted women from across America and high-level women within the Trump administration. It aimed to focus on the economy, healthcare — with a focus on the opioid crisis — and national security.

Aides didn’t rule out the president’s appearance at the event, though it wasn’t on his schedule in advance.

“I wasn’t very far away,” the president said to laughter. “I said I’d love to do this, this is fun.”

“Women represent half of the population but they care about 100 percent of the issues that face the nation, that’s for sure,” the president said. He mentioned optimistic statistics from the Department of Labor: unemployment for women is at a 17-year low while women in the workforce is at an all time high.

Before the president took the stage, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Small Business Association Administration Linda McMahon and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway all took part in panels.

“I’m honored to stand here with women across the administration,” he said, mentioning his daughter, Ivanka, and the women who were “front and center” on the tax bill, which he said has shown “incredible” success.

Trump focused almost entirely on the “tremendous amount of progress” his administration made over the last year during the approximately 8-minute speech. “We have a country that’s on the right track,” the president said.

Next up is immigration, he said — a time-sensitive priority for the administration and for congress as the Friday night deadline for a government shutdown looms large, fully dependent on whether or not a bipartisan deal on DACA comes through.

“We’re working on immigration and immigration reform, and hopefully at some point we’ll be able to solve that problem. If the Democrats really wanted to they could but they really sometimes don’t want to. But we’re working on it and we’ll get it done one way or another, I hope,” the president said.

There are four days until government funding runs out and currently no DACA deal in sight. Democrats are intent on tying action on DACA to any must-pass spending bill, while Republicans want DACA and spending negotiations to remain separate.

Trump made his impromptu appearance during the second panel which focused on the opioid crisis. On the stage at the time were Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida, Rebecca Kleefisch, lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, Kathryn Burgum, the first lady of North Dakota and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Trump acknowledged the women on stage with him and mentioned his Election Night wins in places they represented, eventually turning to Rutledge. “Arkansas. Great state. How did I win Arkansas by so much when she [Hillary Clinton] came from Arkansas?”

“Had the other side gotten in, the market would have gone down 50 percent from where it was. Remember that,” the president said, honing in on the economic successes of his administration.

Cuts to regulations have made all the difference, Trump said, and while there’s still plenty of regulation from agencies across the U.S., “we’re cutting a lot of them, too,” he said to laughter.

Specifically, the president said he’s looking into Dodd Frank, a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 that implemented regulations on the financial industry.

He described a conversation he had with someone at a recent event who was unable to get loans because of regulations, despite a good relationship with the person’s bank. “We’re looking now to Dodd-Frank because we have to free up so the banks can loan money to great people because the banks haven’t been able to do that. They were restricted,” Trump said.

“The regulations had a lot to do with the success, don’t let anyone kid you,” the president said.

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