President Trump dispensed on Thursday with what he called a “boring” speech on tax reform here, tossing his text to his fans before launching into a lengthy tirade against immigration that included an accusation that Democrats were embracing dangerous policies to secure immigrant votes.
Mr. Trump traveled to West Virginia to promote his $1.5 trillion tax overhaul before a friendly audience. But the president grew tired of his prepared remarks after a few moments and returned to the bitter complaints about the United States’ immigration laws that have dominated his attention this week and prompted him on Wednesday to ask governors to deploy the National Guard to the southern border.
“This was going to be my remarks — it would have taken about two minutes, but what the hell — that would have been a little boring,” Mr. Trump said, tossing a sheet of paper covered with neat paragraphs of text into the audience. “I’m reading off the first paragraph, I said, ‘This is boring.’ Come on. We have to tell it like it is.”
Instead, he recounted the terrorist attack last October in Lower Manhattan, in which an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people when he drove a truck onto a pedestrian and bicycle path on the West Side Highway.
“This is what the Democrats are doing to you, and they like it because they think they’re going to vote Democrat,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re doing it for that reason, and other reasons.”
The president later told reporters aboard Air Force One that he intended to deploy 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico. If Mr. Trump sends the low end of his proposal, it would barely exceed the 1,200 sent by President Barack Obama in 2010 to support other border agencies. Even if Mr. Trump sends 4,000, the top end of his proposal, he would be dispatching fewer than President George W. Bush did in 2006.
In a statement on Thursday, the Pentagon press secretary, Dana White, said that the National Guard troops would focus on engineering, logistical support and vehicle maintenance among other things. The statement did not mention the troops taking part in law enforcement.
Republican leaders have urged the president to sell the tax cut that he signed in December, and have tried to make economic growth and low taxes the central theme of 2018 as they move toward a difficult midterm election season. But Mr. Trump has refused to keep to the script.
Instead on Thursday, he opted to blast immigrants and the country’s immigration laws, including a practice known as “catch and release,” in which migrants who present themselves at the border are released from custody to await an immigration hearing to determine whether they should be allowed to remain in the United States.
“We’re toughening up at the border,” Mr. Trump said. “We cannot let people enter our country — we have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from.”
“We don’t know if they’re murderers, if they’re killers, if they’re MS-13,” Mr. Trump went on. “We’re throwing them out by the hundreds.”
He boasted that he had described immigrants as rapists when he declared his presidential candidacy, saying that he had recently learned that during the journey north made by a caravan of Honduran migrants, “women are raped at levels they’ve never seen before.”
Mr. Trump also said his administration had cracked down on MS-13, the transnational gang with links to El Salvador, detailing its brutal methods.
“This is the type of stuff and crap that we’re permitting into our country, and we can’t do it,” Mr. Trump said.
He also repeated his false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
“They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory,’” Mr. Trump said. “Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks drew enthusiastic applause from an audience of about 200 in a state that he won with 68 % of the vote, his biggest margin of victory in the country.
But it also drew rebukes.
“President Trump is insulting American voters by making up lies,” said Jason Kander, a former Democratic candidate for the Senate and now the president of Let America Vote, a voting rights group. “President Trump’s lies cause the American electorate to lose faith in our system of elections and take our elections less seriously, which is one of his goals. If people don’t trust that their vote counts, then they won’t vote.”
The round table on taxes was a lovefest for the president, in which attendees took turns praising him and recounting the ways in which the tax measure and Mr. Trump’s agenda had helped them and their families.
“This is a big deal for our family,” Jessica Hodge said, choking back tears after her husband told Mr. Trump that their family had saved $2,417 because of the tax cut. He said they planned to spend it on a kitchen renovation.
“Thank you for listening to us. Thank you for fighting for us,” she added.
The president grinned and nodded his approval.
Evan Jenkins, a West Virginia House member, and Patrick Morrisey, the state’s attorney general — who are competing in a May primary to run for the Senate — flanked Mr. Trump and took turns showering him with praise.
“You’re a man keeping your promises,” Mr. Jenkins said. “Thanks for keeping your promise.”
Mr. Morrisey chimed in. “Your policies really have made an incredible difference in our state,” he said, adding, “We had the bull’s-eye on us until you got here, so thank you for that.”
As he wrapped up the event, Mr. Trump asked the audience to weigh in on which man should win the primary next month.
“Should we do a small test?” he said. “Who’s voting for Patrick? Who’s voting for Evan?”
The applause was loudest for Mr. Jenkins, who represents the district that White Sulphur Springs is in.
Mr. Trump also attacked Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, saying that he had opposed tough immigration laws and the rest of the president’s agenda.
“I thought he would be useful because he talks,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Manchin, a centrist who is known for searching compromises with Republicans. “But he votes against everything, and he voted against our tax cuts.”
While Mr. Trump spent little time promoting the tax measure he had come to celebrate, he seemed to feed off the adulation of his crowd and relish his detour off-script. Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington, the president asked how the event had gone.
Greeted with silence, Mr. Trump answered his own question, saying he was “very happy.”
“Thought it was really great,” he added.