Trump said, "This was the biggest scam and the greatest crime of the century" to a crowd of thousands at Ohio’s Lorain County Fairgrounds. He began fulfilling his promise to exact revenge on the voters who voted for his historic second impeachment.
This event was organized to support Max Miller, an ex-White House aide who is currently challenging Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez to his congressional seat. Gonzalez was among 10 GOP House members that voted to impeach Trump because he incited the Jan. 6 deadly insurrection at Capitol Building. Trump has pledged to support those who are against him.
He praised Miller for being an "incredible patriot", a "great man" who "loves Ohio," but Trump spent much of the rally focusing on 2020, which he claims he won. Despite top state and local election officials, his attorney general, and many judges including those he appointed saying there is no evidence that the voter fraud he alleges occurred,
Trump is consumed by ongoing efforts to reverse the results in different states. He has even entertained publicly the possibility of being reinstated into office, despite the fact that there is no legal or constitutional basis.
He said that the 2020 presidential election had been rigged. The crowd broke out into a "Trump won!" chant at one point. "We won that election by a landslide." However, the officials who claimed they found no systemic fraud confirmed President Joe Biden's win.
Saturday's focus was on the 2020 election lies even before Trump arrived. A PowerPoint presentation was given by a man who claimed an algorithm was used in manipulating the election results. Mike Lindell, the My Pillow founder and conspiracy theorist, was heralded by the crowd. He was cheered on by the crowd as he posed for photos while mingling around.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, a far-right Republican, was asked by the crowd to name their president. They boomed, "Trump!"
She said, "President Trump is also my president."
Many of the same trappings were present at the event as Trump's rallies as a candidate or president. The event featured an eclectic playlist, the same stage layout, and many familiar volunteers. Trump even re-performed "The Snake", a song he used to allegory illegal immigration. The crowd chanted "Lock Her Up" at the mention Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated. But, gone was Trump's grand entrance with Air Force Once as a backdrop and the pomp that surrounds any sitting President.
Traffic was still jammed from the fairgrounds to town, where proTrump signs were placed on residents' lawns. As supporters arrived, street vendors sold flags with the "Trump 2024” slogan and other merchandise.
Karen Barnett, 60, said, "I just love Him." She drove from Dayton Ohio, and arrived at the fairgrounds about 3:00 a.m. After hopping into her car with "no rest, nothing" when the line started growing.
Five months after Trump resigned, the rally marked the start of a new phase in his presidency. Trump plans to make a series of public appearances over the next few weeks after spending most of his time building a political campaign and fuming about last year's election. Trump will hold a rally in Florida on July Fourth weekend, unattached as a candidate for the midterms. He will also travel to the border to protest Biden’s immigration policies in the next week.
Trump has been hinting at the possibility of a comeback bid for the White House in 2024. The rally was held as Trump faces immediate legal trouble. His company could soon be facing criminal charges following a broad-based investigation into former President Trump's business dealings. According to sources familiar with the matter by The New York Times, the Trump Organization could face criminal charges within days. Trump denounced the investigation as a witch hunt aimed at damaging his political career.
Trump is still polarizing, but he is very popular with the Republican base. Candidates have visited his Florida and New Jersey homes to seek his endorsement, as he has attempted to be his party's kingmaker.
Trump stated that he will help Republicans regain control over Congress in the next year's midterm elections. Trump's efforts to recruit and support candidates to challenge incumbent Republicans that have crossed him have put him at odds to other Republican leaders, who are trying to unify the party following a difficult year in which they lost control over the White House and failed gain control of either the House or the Senate.
Nine of the 10 House Republicans that voted for Trump’s impeachment have so far drawn primary challengers. Trump offered to support any challenger to the last candidate, Rep. John Katko from New York, syracuse.com reported.
Gonzalez, a former college football player and professional football player has stood by his vote for impeachment despite fierce criticism from his party's right-wing, which included his censured by the Ohio Republican Party. Miller called him an "anti-Trumper", saying that he had betrayed Trump and the Republican Party.
Since Trump launched his 2016 campaign, Trump's rallies were a key part of his politics. Former reality star is fired up by performing before his audience and will often test drive new material and talking points to gauge how well they are received. The events are also used by his political operation to gather critical voter information and for fundraising purposes.
They have also spawned a number of hardcore supporters who have traveled across the country to attend dozens of rallies and often camped out overnight in order to secure prime spots. As they reunited for this event, some of these supporters started to line up outside the venue in the early hours of the week.
Others attended their first rallies after feeling compelled to participate in the election's aftermath.
Chris Laskowski (55), who lives in Medina Ohio, was among them. She said, "We miss him." "I believe they robbed them of the election, and he is still our president."
She was not the only one.
Peggy Johnson, 60 years old, predicted that Trump would be back in August. Johnson had traveled from Michigan to attend the rally, which she claimed was her seventh. "He is actually president now."
Hope Yen, an Associated Press reporter, contributed to this Washington report.