Trump speaks in Baltimore, city he called ‘rodent-infested mess’

President Donald Trump addressed the House Republican Conference Member Retreat dinner in Baltimore Thursday evening — his first time visiting the city since he called it a “rat and rodent infested mess.”

Trump tweeted his comments in July, specifically referring to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district, which includes parts of Baltimore, as a place where “no human being would want to live.”

Trump began his speech Thursday as the same time the Democratic presidential lineup took the stage in Texas for their debate, promising fellow Republicans a new, “substantial” tax cut for middle income Americans next year and teasing new administration standards that “will save thousands and thousands … of dollars per car.”

“We’re working on a tax cut for the middle income people that is going to be very, very inspirational, it’s going to be something that I think everyone is looking for,” Trump said.

Trump also claimed that “toxic waste” energy efficient light bulbs make him look orange — one in a series of bizarre claims about green energy and climate conservation in remarks during the remarks. His administration last week lifted energy efficiency regulations for several common types of bulbs.

“The bulb that we’re being forced to use, number one, to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange!” he said, to laughs from the audience. “And so do you. The light is the worst.”

The President briefly mentioned Baltimore toward the end of his speech to Republicans, blaming Democrats for decay in inner cities across the country.

“We’re going to fight for the future of cities like Baltimore that have been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule,” Trump said.

In his concluding remarks, Trump also addressed homelessness in inner cities, saying that his administration gave California notice earlier Thursday, adding, “We’re going to have to step in and do something about it.

“These are our great American cities and they’re an embarrassment, what the Democrats have let happen,” he continued.

When asked what his message is to the people of Baltimore, Trump said ahead of his speech that he looked “forward” to going to the city, but did not address the question further, instead turning attention to the Republican Party.

“I look forward to it. We’re going to be with Republican congressmen and I think it’s gonna be a very successful evening. We had a tremendous election on Tuesday,” the President said ahead of his departure from the White House Thursday evening.

Trump’s previous comments about Baltimore being unlivable sparked a weeks-long back-and-forth between Trump and Cummings, who oversees multiple investigations of Trump and top administration officials as House Oversight chairman.

Trump’s comments were swiftly condemned by Baltimore leaders, including Mayor Jack Young, as well as Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan.

But Trump’s White House staff and his campaign staff have all continued to defend what the President has said about the city. And in late July, Trump said he doesn’t regret criticizing politicians’ handling of the Baltimore and denied assertions that his critiques were racist.

Cummings told CNN’s Manu Raju that he hopes Trump enjoys his time in the city.

“I hope he has a pleasant visit. I hope he gets a chance to see quite a bit of Baltimore. It’s a beautiful city — a lot of hard working people,” Cummings said Thursday.

When Trump arrived at the retreat just outside of Cummings’ district in Baltimore, he was met by demonstrators protesting his policies at a park a block away from his speaking venue.

A group