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Remarks to Members of the United States Coast Guard in Riviera Beach, Florida

November 23, 2017

The President. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. It is an honor to be here, I have to tell you. You know, the Coast Guard, always respected. But if you were looking at it as a brand, there's no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard, with what happened in Texas. And I would say, in particular, Texas has been incredible. You saved 16,000 lives—nobody knows that—16,000 lives.

In fact, when I first heard the number, I said, you mean like 600, 500? Sixteen thousand lives in Texas. So, as bad as that hurricane was—and that was a bad one. That was a big water job, right? It kept coming in and going back. They couldn't get rid of it. They've never seen—I guess it was the biggest water dump they've ever seen. But when you get 16,000—boy, look at them. This is a good looking group of people, I'll tell you. [Laughter] But when you do 16,000, that's really something.

And then Florida hit, and you know that one very well. You knew that one pretty well, right?

Station Commanding Officer Chief Warrant Officer Gene Gibson, USCG. We were lucky.

The President. The job you did in Florida. And then, Puerto Rico.

And I really mean that. I think that there is no brand, of any kind—I'm not just talking about a military brand—that has gone up more than the Coast Guard. Incredible people. You've done an incredible job. And I loved coming in here and doing this with you today. I think it's—well, we have to keep you very well fed. [Laughter] Okay? These are—this is good stuff. But it's an honor.

And the First Lady, you know——

The First Lady. Happy Thanksgiving. [Laughter]

Audience members. Happy Thanksgiving.

The President. And we went together to Texas, and we saw what you were doing. And you just followed that storm, right next to that storm. And you just—and you saved so many people.

I still haven't figured out how people take their boats out into a hurricane, okay? [Laughter] I mean, someday, you'll explain it. Gene was just telling me that they actually do it to save their boat, in many cases. But they're not thinking about their life, they're thinking about their boats. And I don't know, I mean, they go out in a boat and they think, I guess, they're—you know, they've got a wonderful boat, they've had it for years, it can weather anything. And then, they have 25-foot waves splashing out—and that would be the end of them.

But—so you saved a lot of people. And I just want to thank you on behalf of the whole country and on behalf of us. What a job you've done, and thank you all very much. And I'll also take questions if you have them. Now, should we leave the media here to do the questions? [Laughter] Or should we tell the media—[laughter]? You know what, it's Thanksgiving, so let's let the media stay. Okay?

Anybody have any questions about the country, how we're doing, or any of those things? I love it when you don't. [Laughter] See, that means you're doing great. I love that. That's the greatest.

The press, I know, doesn't have any questions. If you do, we won't take them, but that's all right. [Laughter] The press has plenty of questions.

But the country is doing really well. Stock market, alltime high. This is all good stuff. I just spoke to a lot of your friends in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We spoke to the USS Monterey—great ship, great missile ship. We spoke to a lot of different folks from the Air Force, the Army, just now, a little while ago at Mar-a-Lago.

The telecommunications systems, what you can do now, we go live to Iraq and live to Afghanistan. And I mean, it's really incredible. But I told them our country is doing great. And you folks are fighting so hard and working so hard. And it's nice that you're working for something that's really starting to work.

We've cut back so much on regulation and all the waste and all the abuse. And the stock market on Friday hit the alltime high. The highest it's ever been, ever. Your whole, long life, the stock market is higher than it's ever been. [Laughter] And that means your 401(k)s, you know, all of the things that you have, whether it's—even if you're in the military, you have a country that's really starting to turn.

We want to have a strong country. We want to have a country where I can buy new Coast Guard cutters and not have to worry about it, all right? And that's what we're doing, we're building up wealth so that we can take care of our protection. And we're ordering tremendous amounts of new equipment. We're at $700 billion for the military. And you know, they were cutting back for years. They just kept cutting, cutting, cutting the military. And you got lean, to put it nicely. It was depleted, was the word. And now it's changing.

The Navy, I can tell you, we're ordering ships. With the Air Force, we're ordering a lot of planes, in particular the F-35 fighter jet, which is, you know, almost like an invisible fighter. I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, how good is this plane? They said, "Well, sir, you can't see it." I said, yes, but in a fight—you know, a fight—like I watch on the movies, a fight, they're fighting. How good is this? They say: "Well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to it, it can't see it." I said, that helps. I don't know—[laughter].That's a good thing.

But, I mean, we have equipment that—nobody has the equipment that we have. And it's sad when we're selling our equipment to other countries, but we're not buying it ourself, okay? But now that's all changed. And the stuff—I said, the stuff that we have is always a little bit better too. You know, when we sell to other countries, even if they're allies—you never know about an ally. An ally can turn. You understand. [Laughter] You're going to find that out. [Laughter] But I always say, make ours a little bit better. You know, give it that extra speed. A little bit—keep a little bit—keep about 10 percent in the bag, because what we have—nobody has like what we have, and that's what we're doing.

But we're really proud of the Coast Guard. And I'm very proud—I walked in today, and Gene said, the day I got elected, the following morning, they were putting up the statement that I made right on your front door, right on your glass. And I came in, the first thing I noticed, of course—I said, wow, look at that. And I said, did you put that up just for me because I happened to be coming here today? And you did that the first day, so that tells me something. That tells me something. Thank you.

Chief Warrant Officer Gibson. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Special guy.

Let's go, fellas, come on. Let's get up here. Let's get up here.

Chief Warrant Officer Gibson. Everybody, help yourselves.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:09 a.m. at Station Lake Worth Inlet.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks to Members of the United States Coast Guard in Riviera Beach, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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