BALTIMORE — President Donald Trump sought to boost the spirits of Republican lawmakers Thursday, mocking Democrats and promising a new tax cut package, as he returned to the city he recently disparaged as a "rat and rodent infested mess."

Trump spoke to House Republicans attending an annual retreat in a hotel on Baltimore's waterfront. Protesters gathered nearby. But inside, the president found a friendly audience of legislators whose political futures are closely tied to how well he performs in next year's election. They greeted him with a chant of "four more years."

Trump obliquely addressed his earlier insults against Baltimore, promising Republicans would "fight for the future of cities like Baltimore that have been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule."

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Donald Trump at 2019 House Republican Conference in Baltimore, Sept. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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He said crushing regulations, crippling taxes and "unrestricted migration" have undermined law enforcement and devastated America's inner cities. "We're going to have to step up and doing something about it because we can't allow that to happen to our great cities," he said.

Trump had lashed out at Baltimore in a series of July tweets critical of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represents the city's majority-black 7th Congressional District. Cummings also chairs the House oversight panel conducting numerous investigations of the administration's policies and work.

On Thursday, Trump emphasized some of the biggest wins of his presidency, such as boosting military spending, slashing regulations and expanding a program that gives veterans the option to see private doctors outside the Veterans Affairs medical system. He touted the $1.5 trillion tax cut package passed in 2017 and promised to deliver another tax cut proposal next year.

"We are working on a tax cut for the middle-income people that is going to be very, very inspirational. It's going to be something that I think it's what everyone's really looking for," Trump said. "It will be a very, very substantial tax cut for middle-income folks, who work so hard."

Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation when he promised to uphold the right to keep and bear arms.

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An giant inflatable rat depicting President Donald Trump is seen on the street near the U.S. House Republican Member Retreat, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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