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Trump promises ‘show of a lifetime’ for July 4

This article is more than 12 months old

US President has turned non-partisan event into re-election stunt, say detractors

WASHINGTON : Tanks in the heart of Washington, fighter jets screaming overhead, and a speech from the Lincoln Memorial.

US President Donald Trump promises the "show of a lifetime" for this year's Fourth of July celebrations, but critics have lashed, blasting him for turning it into a personal prime-time extravaganza.

The Commander-In-Chief has torn up another norm, they say, by hijacking a traditionally non-partisan Independence Day as he seeks re-election, AFP reported.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump tweeted: "Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big. It will be the show of a lifetime!"

"We have the greatest economy anywhere in the world. We have the greatest military anywhere in the world. Not bad!" he added.

Usually, said Mr Rich Hanley, a media and popular culture expert at Quinnipiac University, July 4 works as a kind of national ceasefire.

"It's a day when people can set aside their polarised differences... and raise the flag without entering into political discussions," he said.

But this year, the familiar script is being given a rewrite.

The new showpiece in the US capital will see Mr Trump take to the hallowed steps of the Lincoln Memorial for an unprecedented "Salute to America" event that will include a televised address, military hardware and a giant fireworks display.

The modified Boeing 747 used as Air Force One will fly over, as will noisy, powerful warplanes expected to include F-35s, and jets from the Navy's Blue Angels air show team.

A handful of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles have been stationed near the Lincoln Memorial, although the enormous M1 Abrams tanks are not expected to roll, as their tracks would likely tear up city streets.

The centre of attention, however, will not be the weapons. Nor will it be the nearly million dollars' worth of fireworks that have been donated by two big manufacturers.

Rather, it will be Mr Trump.

"Your favourite President, me!" he tweeted when announcing the show.

Mr Trump's "ego is so large that he's holding this Fourth of July campaign rally in a desperate cry for attention, and everyone knows it," Senator Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter.

Counter-protesters have said they will bring their own kind of political fireworks to the National Mall, the grassy park running 3km from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol.

Leftist organisation Code Pink is deploying its "Baby Trump" blimp, a large inflated doll depicting the President in diapers.

But the National Park Service denied permission to fill the inflatable with helium, so the depiction of a cranky, infantile Trump will stay on the ground. - AFP, REUTERS