Feb. 18 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump returned to his role as a fiery campaigner in Florida before a raucous crowd of supporters Saturday, railing against the media for reporting "fake news."
Harkening back to his free-wheeling campaign rallies, Trump took the unusual step for a president of calling up on stage a member of the audience who he saw being interviewed on television before the event. After ordering the Secret Service to allow the man to hop a security barrier, Trump turned over the microphone to allow the man to address the crowd. The man briefly thanked Trump before waving and leaving the stage.
"A star is born," Trump said as the man walked off stage. "I wouldn't say the Secret Service was thrilled with that, but we know our people. Great guy."
Trump's campaign fund paid for the event, which a spokeswoman billed as a "rally for America." Typically, a president's travel is paid for by taxpayers, even on trips that take the form of a barnstorming tour in support of the administration's agenda. Only presidential travel meant to raise money or serve specifically as a campaign event are paid for by the president's campaign fund.
Asked Friday why Trump felt it necessary to return to the campaign stump so soon after taking office, a spokeswoman said he felt the need to get his message out directly to the American people.
"I think, in large part, it's because his message, when filtered through -- unfortunately, people standing in this circle don't always do the best job delivering his message, and nobody does it better than he does," Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. "And so, he can do that very easily by taking the stage and talking directly to the people of America, addressing their concerns, and being able to properly express exactly what he's doing, what his administration has done over the last month, and what they plan to do in the coming weeks."
Trump took aim at the media, calling journalists "dishonest" and their reports "fake news."
"I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news," Trump said. "The dishonest media which has published one false story after another, with no sources ... they just don't want to report the truth and they've been calling us wrong now for two years, they don't get it.
"They've become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system."
Trump then turned to a lengthy criticism of the unanimous decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down his executive order restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
"When they wrote their decision, as I understand it, they didn't write the statute they were making the decision about," Trump said, quoting a federal statute his administration argued supports the ban. It states the president has the authority to restrict immigration if it is deemed a detriment to the nation.
Other laws, however, specify the president is not allowed to restrict immigration on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or country of origin, the basis for the Ninth Circuit's decision.
Trump promised his administration would try again to implement strict controls over immigration, pledging a new executive order early next week.