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Trump boasts of defeating 'savage' Islamic State abroad

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida (AP)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida (AP)

US president Donald Trump has touted his efforts to secure the homeland, saying his administration is "taking care of our citizens at home" by defeating the Islamic State abroad.

Speaking to a raucous rally crowd in Florida, Mr Trump said the US military is dealing the Islamic State "one brutal defeat after another".

"Not only are we defeating these killers, these savage killers, horrible, horrible," Mr Trump told hundreds of supports at a rally in Pensacola, a region a White House spokesman called "Trump country".

"You don't even want to say people," Mr Trump said. "These are savage killers over there, but we sure as hell don't want them to come over here."

Mr Trump also said he is expelling members of the violent street gang known as MS-13, which has its origins in Central America.

"America is being respected again abroad and we are taking care of our citizens at home and we're going to have safety and we have a lot more now," said the president, who appeared buoyed as he headlined his first campaign rally in more than two months.

"America is more than just a place on a map," he said. "America is a nation. America is a family. America is ours to love and to cherish and to protect and to take care of."

Before arriving in Florida panhandle, Mr Trump reinforced his support for embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Mr Trump told voters four days before they go to the polls that the "LAST thing" he needs in the closely divided Republican-controlled Senate is a "Liberal Democrat" who opposes his agenda.

"Get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it," Mr Trump told the crowd.

"We cannot afford, the future of this country cannot afford to lose the seat," Mr Trump said, referring to his party's razor-thin 52-48 advantage in that chamber of Congress.

Mr Trump said Mr Moore's opponent, Doug Jones, is a "liberal Democrat" who would be "completely controlled" by Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi in the House and Chuck Schumer in the Senate.

"He's their total puppet and everybody knows it," Mr Trump said. He touched briefly on the closely watched Senate race that will be decided when voters in next-door Alabama go to the polls on Tuesday.

"We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda, which involves tough on crime, strong on borders, strong on immigration," Mr Trump continued.

Mr Moore, who is 70, has been dogged by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including accusations that he molested two teenage girls and pursued romantic relationships with several others while in his 30s. Mr Moore has denied the allegations.

The White House said the rally was a campaign event for Mr Trump. But the location - so close to the Alabama state line and feeding its television markets - stoked speculation that it was a backdoor way for the president to boost Mr Moore's campaign without actually setting foot in the state.

"It's not that he's not going to Alabama. It's that he is going to Pensacola," White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters on board Air Force One as Mr Trump flew to Florida. "Pensacola is Trump country. This is a part of the state that voted overwhelmingly for the president in 2016. He'll be travelling back to Florida from time to time, and it's a key state."

Mr Shah said the president and White House have made clear that the Moore allegations are "troubling and concerning" and "should be taken seriously". He also noted that Mr Moore has maintained his innocence, and said that should be considered as well.

"Ultimately his endorsement is about the issues," Mr Shah said.

Friday's campaign rally was Trump's first since September, when he went to Alabama to campaign for Senator Luther Strange, who lost the Republican run-off election to Mr Moore.


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