AP PHOTOS: Trump showcases heroes and victims in his address

Member of the Cabinet applaud during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Associated Press

Democrats who did not applaud President Donald Trump as he gave good numbers about unemployment during his State of the Union speech were "un-American" and "treasonous," he told an audience in Ohio on Monday.

“Even on positive news like that, really positive news like that, they were like death and un-American,” Trump said here as he went off script during a speech on tax cuts. “Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Shall we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

The president’s incendiary assessment came in the middle of a speech designed to tout the benefits of the Republican tax-cut package, which Trump said set off “a tidal wave of good news that continues to grow each day.”

As he spoke, Trump made no mention of the remarkably volatile day on Wall Street that ended with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging more than 1,150 points. Trump frequently cites the Dow’s record rise over the last year as evidence that his tax cut and deregulation programs are working.

Though a White House spokesman told reporters beforehand it was not a political speech, the event in many respects resembled Trump’s freewheeling campaign rallies at which he pingpongs from one subject to another.

By Tuesday morning, a White House spokesman scrambled to say that Trump didn't really mean the "treasonous" comment.

Hogan Gidley told NBC News that Trump was being "tongue in cheek" when he accused Democrats of treason for not applauding.

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