By ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump tempered his threatening rhetoric toward Iran Tuesday, two days after he sent an all-caps warning of future conflict.
Addressing the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump took credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear accord, but said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.
“We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” he said.
While U.S. intelligence agencies maintained that Iran complied with the Obama-era agreement to halt its nuclear program, Trump had complained that the deal didn’t do enough to curb Iran’s malign influence in the region.
Trump also highlighted part of his agreement with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un last month to transfer some remains of Americans killed during the Korean war back to the U.S. as an example of his support for the nation’s veterans as his new VA secretary begins his work.
Speaking in Kansas City, he emphasized efforts to help more veterans see private doctors, known as the “Choice” program. He said he made the trip “to pay tribute to men and women who make freedom possible.”
“Veterans Choice has been passed,” Trump boasted to applause, promising it would reduce wait-times for medical care.
Robert Wilkie, the new secretary of Veterans Affairs, has insisted that he won’t privatize the VA despite concerns raised by Democrats. Wilkie accompanied Trump to Kansas City.
Trump noted that Wilkie was confirmed Monday by an 86-9 vote, joking that the Democratic lawmakers voting now are the “Super lefts who are running against me in 2.5 years.”
The president also maintained his position in the ongoing culture war over professional athletes kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner. On Friday, Trump called on the National Football League to impose stiff penalties no any player who protests during the national anthem.
“We don’t apologize for America anymore,” Trump said. “We stand up for America. We stand up for the patriots who defend America. And we stand up for our national anthem.”
Trump is also raising money for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill in a race that’s key to Republican efforts to maintain their Senate majority.