Trump reprises anti-immigration poem at rally

  • President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since being acquitted by the Senate at his impeachment trial last Wednesday.

  • At the Monday rally in New Hampshire, Trump reprised a crowd favorite from his 2016 presidential campaign — reciting a 1963 poem titled "The Snake," which he used to push his anti-migrant message.

  • In the poem — which was written by an African-American civil rights activist — a woman takes in an injured snake that then bites her. In Trump's version, the snake symbolizes migrants entering the US.

  • The president also lavished praise on his supporters and family, particularly his daughter Ivanka, whom he called "beautiful" and called on stage.

  • He also attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and called his impeachment a "bipartisan hoax." As the crowd chanted "lock her up" — referring to Pelosi — Trump gave a thumbs-up sign.

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Seemingly emboldened by his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump held a wild campaign rally in New Hampshire on Monday, delighting supporters by reprising some of his 2016 campaign's greatest hits.

Among them was a 1963 poem called "The Snake," which Trump interpreted as a parable on the dangers of illegal migration. Many critics have repeatedly denounced Trump's version of the poem as racist scare-mongering.

"I used to do this a lot and people couldn't get enough of it. To be honest with you — and I haven't done it for a while — I thought I would do it tonight because you're on the eve of giving us an opponent and all of these people want open borders," Trump told supporters in Manchester.

He was referring to the New Hampshire Democratic primary, which began midnight Tuesday and will close between 7 and 8 p.m. EST throughout the state. (You can see live vote counts here.) Trump has also falsely claimed that the Democratic Party supports an end to US border controls for migrants.

After his preamble Trump read out the poem, which describes a woman who takes in an injured snake that ends up turning on her and biting her.

It was a crowd favorite during his 2016 presidential campaign, but the last time he recited it was a year ago at the CPAC conference in Washington, DC.

"'Oh, shut up, silly woman!' said the reptile with a grin. 'You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,' " said Trump, reading from the poem, as the audience cheered.

During the Monday rally, Trump falsely claimed that he was quoting from a song by soul legend Al Green, CNN reporter Daniel Dale tweeted.

The poem was recorded as a song by soul singer Al Wilson in 1968, but was written by Oscar Brown Jr., an African-American civil-rights activist, poet, and former Communist Party member.

Brown's daughters have previously told the president to stop distorting the meaning of their father's poem to push his anti-migrant message.

"He's stealing and he's twisting Oscar's meaning to serve his own campaign and climate of intolerance and hate, which is the opposite of what the original author, Oscar Brown Jr., intended," Maggie Brown told MSNBC last year.

Pelosi Trump
Pelosi Trump

Patrick Semansky/AP

'Lock her up'

Trump also reiterated claims that his impeachment was a "partisan hoax," and focused his attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the main Democrats that drove his impeachment.

This prompted the crowd to reprise their chants of "lock her up"— another crowd favorite previously aimed at his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Footage from the rally showed Trump did not join in the chants, but gave a thumbs-up sign and appeared to smile as they continued.

He also lavished praise on his supporters and children, even calling his daughter Ivanka Trump on stage to join him.

He described her as "beautiful" to the crowd, adding: "I'm not allowed to say that because it's my daughter."

Trump has a long history of praising his daughter's physical appearance in a way that many people — including some who were present when he made the remarks — have found inappropriate.

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