Reveling in his victimhood, Mr. Trump even likened himself to Abraham Lincoln, noting that Lincoln got poor reviews for the Gettysburg Address in 1863, before the speech was later regarded as one of the finest in the nation’s history.
“I have a feeling,” he told the crowd in remarks far longer than Lincoln’s, “that’s going to happen to us.”
In the arena, the country was as he dictated it: empowered by a booming economy and Republican policy, but facing a looming threat from a blitz of opposition from Democrats and the news media. But the president also had to confront the drumbeat of disclosures that have raised questions about his competence and even his mental state.
He mocked news reports that depict him raging in the White House residence — instead telling homespun anecdotes about quizzing his wife, Melania, about the news media’s more provocative claims. And he painstakingly detailed examples of his competence: the political dynasties he had to defeat in the general election and his administration’s economic and national security achievements as evidence of his competence.
There were other reasons, outside of unflattering headlines, for Mr. Trump to be angry. Armed with leaked documents, Democrats continue to rail against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, his nominee for the Supreme Court, and protesters persist in interrupting the judge’s confirmation hearings.
“Do you believe the anger and the meanness on the other side?” Mr. Trump said. “Sick. It’s sick.”
Even as he deviated to his laundry list of complaints, Mr. Trump reserved a certain amount of wrath for Mr. Tester, the source of a searing, four-month-old grudge. Mr. Tester, as Mr. Trump reminded the crowd, raised concerns about Dr. Ronny L. Jackson’s professional behavior that subsequently derailed the doctor’s nomination as head of the Veterans Affairs Department.
“One of the saddest things,” Mr. Trump told the crowd of the accusations, echoing the charges he made in a Montana rally just two months ago. (Mr. Trump did acknowledge a “beautiful ad” that Mr. Tester released this week about their cohesion on veterans affairs issues.)
“The problem is,” Mr. Trump lamented, “he’s never going to vote for me.”