President Donald Trump renewed campaign pledges Monday to keep radical Muslims out of the U.S., rebuild the military and press NATO members to pay their fair share for defense.
In a brief address to troops from U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Trump did not refer directly to his executive order travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries, now the subject of court challenges.
However, the president said he wants a strong program of border controls to ensure that those who are admitted to the U.S. are "people that love us and want to love our country -- not people that want to destroy us and destroy our country."
His remarks were greeted by hoots and applause from the audience.
The president also said that the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and other proponents of "radical Islamic terrorism" is being distorted by the media.
"It's gotten to a point where a very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that," he told the troops.
Recalling one of his campaign themes, Trump said defending the U.S. also entails "getting our allies to pay their fair share" and "make their full and proper contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing -- not even close."
Trump was introduced by Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, who told the troops they were "incredibly fortunate to have him [Trump] with us today" on his 18th day in office.
"I cannot overstate this; this is a very big deal," Votel said.
Despite a brief misstep -- Trump called Votel "Gen. Vogel," the president's remarks on rebuilding the military with major increases in defense spending were well received.
"We will make sure you have the tools," he said. "You've seen me say we're depleted. It's not gonna happen anymore, folks. Not gonna happen -- not with me."
Aboard Air Force One on the trip back to Washington, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer could not immediately cite examples of the media ignoring terrorist attacks, as Trump had asserted.
"We'll provide a list later," Spicer said, but he insisted that there were "several instances" of the media either ignoring a terrorist attack or failing to give it adequate coverage.
"There's a lot of instances that have occurred where I don't think they've gotten the coverage it deserved," he said.
In assailing the media again on its coverage of terrorism, Trump "felt members of the media don't always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered," Spicer said.
"Protests will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn't necessarily get the same coverage. He's doing what he can to protect this nation and protect our people," he said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.