WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump plans to get back to the business of governing, one day after a huge rally in Florida where he once again denounced the press.
At his lavish Mar-a-Lago club in Florida where he is spending the weekend, the president plans to spend Sunday interviewing several candidates aiming to be his new national security adviser.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One Saturday, “many, many that want the job.’’ Trump said “I’ve been thinking about someone for the last three or four days, we’ll see what happens. I’m meeting with that person. They’re all good, they’re all great people.’’
Among those scheduled to meet with Trump concerning the position are his acting adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen.
The White House has said there could be other meetings for the job, which became open when retired Gen. Michael Flynn was fired from the position last week early in the new administration.
Trump also planned several phone conversations with foreign leaders and a policy meeting on health care.
On Saturday during a large campaign-style rally, Trump declared his administration has been making “incredible progress,” but complained again about what he called dishonest reporting by American news media.
A crowd of supporters gathered in an airport hangar in Melbourne, Florida, loudly cheered Trump’s comments. Some held signs urging him to run for re-election in 2020, even though his four-year term as president began a little less than a month ago.
Trump repeated many of the angry comments he made about news reporters during a 77-minute news conference at the White House Thursday. He said most mainstream media outlets are purveyors of “fake news” and accused reporters of lying about their sources.
“They’ve become a big part of the problem,” he said.
The president then recounted what he said were the many things his administration has done in the past four weeks.
Watch: Trump Rallies Supporters in Florida ‘Without the Filter of Fake News’
“I want to be among the people.”
“I’m here to tell you the incredible progress we have made in making America great again,” he said.
“Our plans for the future, they’re big and they’re bold and it’s what our country is all about, believe me,” he said to prolonged cheers.
Melbourne police said about 9,000 people attended the president’s rally. The U.S. Air Force One was parked nearby, bathed in spotlights.
Trump rebutted news reports that the White House staff is disorganized, inefficient and overly contentious. He said again this was the result of false reporting.
“The White House is running so smoothly,” the president said, with his wife, first lady Melania Trump, standing nearby smiling. “And we inherited one big mess.”
New health care plan coming soon
He echoed promises from his election campaign of better schools, better jobs for American workers and a better health care system.
Watch: Trump: Health Care Plan to Replace 'Obamacare' to be Submitted Soon
“And by the way,” Trump added, “we are going to be submitting in a couple of weeks a great health care plan that’s going to take the place of the disaster known as Obamacare” — a reference to the Affordable Care Act, written into law during the administration of former president Barack Obama.
The president promised the government-backed, health care system “will be repealed and replaced,” although he gave no details.
Watch: Trump Allows Supporter Onstage at Florida Rally
At one point, Trump pulled up onto the stage a supporter and asked him to address the crowd.
The young man, who wore a T-shirt with Trump’s name and the presidential seal, had been held back in the crowd by Secret Service agents as he tried to press forward, but the president called to the agents to let him through.
“I wouldn’t say Secret Service was thrilled with that,” Trump said in an aside to the crowd, “...but we know our people.”
During the short flight to Melbourne from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, a reporter asked why Trump was holding a campaign-type rally so soon after November’s election.
“Life is a campaign,” Trump replied. “To make America great again is absolutely a campaign. It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”
Over the past four weeks, Trump has struggled with media reports about chaos in the White House, his ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations was struck down in court, he was forced to fire his national security adviser, and his administration is now coping with an expanding story about contacts between his campaign officials and the Russian government before he was elected.
Organizers had said 30,000 people were expected to attend the rally on Florida’s Atlantic coast, but the account from local police and reporters on the scene indicated total attendance was much lower. A few dozen protesters were outside the airport, local media reports said.
Campaign-style rallies like Saturday’s event have occurred during previous U.S. administrations. Obama held several similar events early in his presidency to build support for his economic-stimulus package. What was slightly different about Trump’s rally, however, was that it was funded by the Trump campaign organization, already working on plans for an election still 37 months away.
Trump filed re-election paperwork with election officials just a few hours after he was sworn-in as president, allowing him to continue raising campaign funds. Finance reports show his campaign raised $9.6 million in December.