Trump airs old election grievances back on rally stage

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WELLINGTON, Ohio (AP) – Former President Donald Trump resumed his election grievances and baseless fraud allegations as he returned to the rally scene on Saturday, hosting his first campaign-style event since leaving Home White.

“It was the scam of the century and it was the crime of the century,” Trump told a crowd of thousands at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Ohio, not far from Cleveland, where he started to keep his promise to get revenge on those who voted. for his second historic impeachment.

The event was held in support of Max Miller, a former White House aide who challenges Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez for his seat in Congress. Gonzalez was one of 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the deadly Jan.6 insurgency on Capitol Hill. Trump has pledged to support those who come forward against them.

And while he praised Miller as an “amazing patriot” and a “great guy” who “loves the people of Ohio,” Trump spent much of the rally focusing on the 2020 election, which he insists he won, even though top state and local election officials, his own attorney general and many judges, some of whom he appointed, said there was no evidence of the massive electoral fraud he claims to have had.

Trump has been engrossed in the ongoing efforts to overturn the results in various states, and has even publicly considered the idea that he might somehow be reinstated in office, even though he does not exist. no legal or constitutional basis for doing so.

“The 2020 presidential election has been rigged,” he told the crowd, which at one point turned into “Trump won!” song. “We won this election in a landslide.” In fact, President Joe Biden’s victory was carefully validated by officials who said they found no systemic fraud.

Saturday’s attention to the 2020 election lies began even before Trump arrived. The pre-show included a PowerPoint-style presentation by a man who claims that an algorithm was used to manipulate election results. And Mike Lindell, the founder of My Pillow turned conspiracy theorist who spent millions trying to prove the election was stolen, was hailed as a hero by some in the crowd, who chanted his name and stood up. beaten for photos as he walked around.

When Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgian far-right Republican known for her inflammatory rhetoric, asked the crowd who their president was, they yelled, “Trump!

“President Trump is also my president,” she said.

The event had many attributes of the rallies held by Trump as candidate and president. There was the eclectic playlist, the same set design, and lots of familiar volunteers. Trump even covered his performance of “The Snake,” a song he used as an allegory for illegal immigration, and the crowd chanted “Lock her up” at the mention of Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who he defeated the entrance in 2016 using the Air Force Once as a backdrop, and the pomp that surrounds any sitting president.

Still, traffic throughout the afternoon was slowed from the fairground to the city, where pro-Trump signs dot the lawns of residents. Around street corners, vendors were selling “Trump 2024” flags and other merchandise as supporters arrived.

“I just love it,” said Karen Barnett, 60, who drove from Dayton, Ohio and arrived at the fairgrounds around 3 a.m. after hopping in her car with “no sleep, nothing” when she heard that the queue was getting longer.

The rally, held five months after Trump left under a cloud of violence, marks the start of a new, more public phase of his post-presidency. After spending much of his time behind closed doors building a political operation and ranting against the latest election, Trump is forecasting a flurry of public appearances in the coming weeks. He will hold another rally in Florida over the weekend of July 4 with no ties to a midterm candidate and travel to the southern border next week to protest Biden’s immigration policies.

The rally came as Trump, who has continued to tease the possibility that he is organizing a White House return in 2024, faces immediate legal danger. Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday informed her company that it could soon face criminal charges stemming from a broad investigation into the former president’s business dealings. The New York Times, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that charges could be filed against the Trump Organization within days. Trump has denounced the investigations as nothing more than a “witch hunt” aimed at harming him politically.

Although Trump remains a deeply polarizing figure, he is extremely popular with the Republican base, and candidates have flocked to his home in Florida and New Jersey to seek his endorsement as he tries to position himself as the kingmaker. of his party.

Trump has said he is determined to help Republicans regain control of Congress in next year’s midterm election. But his efforts to support – and recruit – candidates to challenge incumbent Republicans who crossed paths with him put him at odds with other Republican leaders who tried to unify the party after a brutal year in which they lost control of the White House and failed to gain control of either house of Congress.

So far, nine of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment have attracted the main challengers. And Trump has offered to back anyone who comes forward to challenge the remaining candidate, Representative John Katko from New York, syracuse.com reported.

Gonzalez, a former college and professional football player, has maintained his impeachment vote amid strong criticism from his party’s conservative wing, including his censorship by the Ohio Republican Party. Miller, in his opening remarks, called him an “anti-Trumper” who had betrayed Trump, the Republican Party and his constituency with his vote.

Trump’s rallies have been instrumental in his politics since launching his 2016 campaign. The former reality TV star is energized performing in front of her audiences and often tests out new content and talking points to see how they resonate with the crowd. Its political operation also uses the events to collect critical voter contact information from participants and as fundraising tools.

And they spawned a group of die-hard fans who have traveled across the country, attending dozens of rallies, often camping at night to grab the best spots. Some of those supporters started lining up outside the venue earlier in the week as they gathered for the event.

Others attended their first rallies, feeling compelled to participate in the aftermath of the elections.

They included Chris Laskowski, 55, who lives in Medina, Ohio. “We miss him,” she said. “I think they stole the election from him and he’s still our president.”

She was not alone.

“He will be back in August,” predicted Peggy Johnson, 60, who had come from Michigan to attend what she said was her seventh Trump rally. “He’s actually president now.” _

Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report from Washington.


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