WARREN — Former President Donald Trump, visiting Michigan for the second time in six months to galvanize his base ahead of the midterm elections, delivered a somber speech on Saturday drenched in grievances against Democrats, saying he was persecuted by enemies and the nation threatened by rising prices, crime and opportunity. the third world war.
Describing Democrats as “brutal and vengeful left-wing tyrants” and calling them “sinister” and “poisonous,” the former president urged his followers to elect the slate of Republicans he endorsed for office on Nov. 8, warning that failure to do so could have dire consequences.
“These are dangerous people who are ready to burn every American institution to the ground,” Trump said at one point in his speech to about 5,000 people at the Macomb County Sports and Exposition Center.
Trump visited Michigan as the most influential figure in the Republican Party and someone who has repeatedly hinted that he will run for president again in 2024. But on a night when he was expected to focus more on the candidates running in the state this year — GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, Attorney General candidate Matt DePerne and Secretary of State candidate Christine Karam, among other candidates to Congress or a state legislature—they played only a brief role in the speech, which lasted about an hour and 45 minutes. There was also little discussion of how Republicans could, as a policy issue, address high inflation, protect the southern border or respond to Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Instead, Trump has focused on himself and the legal issues he faces, from an FBI probe to documents, some believed to be classified, found at his Florida estate to investigations in New York, where the state’s attorney general is looking into financial his business practices, and in Georgia, where his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results are being scrutinized.
“Let’s talk about the persecution of Donald Trump and the Republican Party,” he said at the start of his speech. And he did it for more than an hour.
Claiming that the actions taken against him were politically motivated to prevent him from running for office again in 2024, he said some of the investigations were bribed by enemies, including people who worked for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. , whom he defeated in 2016, although he offered no hard evidence for such claims.
“I think they would like to see me in prison,” he said. “You know why, because they’re sick – they’re sick people.”
But he also said that the attempts to harm him are actually helping him and his efforts to “Make America Great Again,” which he called “the greatest political movement in the history of our country.”
“They make us much stronger and more united,” he said.
Trump called Whitmer “sinister,” repeating the election lie
At several points during the speech, the former president reiterated claims that the 2020 election in several key states, including Michigan, was fraudulently won by Biden, despite the fact that no widespread problems or corruption were ever found. , no court has ever upheld the claims, and a Republican-led state Senate committee has largely debunked the president’s arguments.
He claimed it was a “rigged and stolen election,” and some of the candidates he supported — including Dixon, DePerne and Karamo — continued to repeat many of the same claims. In 2020, Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes.
“I don’t believe we’ll ever have a fair election again,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, he criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who fought Trump in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 amid his own stay-at-home orders, calling them “radical” and “one of America’s most sinister governors.” He said Michigan experienced the “worst crime wave” in its history during her tenure, but offered no data to back that up. Generally speaking, while crime in the US has risen during the pandemic, it has not reached the levels of the early 1990s.
“Michigan, you need to dump that crazy extremist Gretchen Whitmer and put Tudor Dixon in the governor’s office,” he said.
The former president also railed against electric vehicles — Michigan automakers plan to bring dozens of models to market in the coming years — as something that will “kill Michigan’s auto industry forever.” He also tried again to take credit for fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as president — even though he actually rejected cuts his own administration had proposed for several years to the effort.
Many of these claims were ones he had made before. But there were other comments that seemed to go further than he has done in the past.
Railing against crime and a spike in contact with undocumented immigrants at the southern border, he ran through a list of violent incidents involving immigrants and said countries around the world are sending prisoners to cross into the U.S. — without offering any evidence of that. requirement. He also expressed appreciation for China’s reliance on “speedy trials” for accused drug traffickers — with what he believes is likely to be a near 100 percent conviction rate — followed by executions.
“You have to have the death penalty, and if you don’t have it, this crime is going to skyrocket,” he said. “I really believe that this should be part of our platform … We have no choice but to do this.”
At the end of the speech, he delivered a somber, menacing tone to solemn music, invoking the specter of World War III and painting a picture of a country in dire straits, convulsed by crime and fear.
“We are a nation that has lost its way, but we will not allow that to continue,” he said.
Trump’s visit will take place five weeks before the election
Trump’s visit to Warren comes as Whitmer and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to have an advantage over his Republican opponents in the polls, and given that Trump has seen his lead among suburban Michigan voters slip in 2020, the timing of this rally — and the airing of many of the same grievances — came as a surprise.
Trump, on the other hand, rarely modifies his message based on political realities.
Certainly, the speech could motivate his supporters who believe the 2020 election was stolen and attract voters who might otherwise not vote. And Macomb County, largely a blue-collar base with enthusiastic support for Trump, is an important swing district — one Trump won in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, but which supported Whitmer over Republican Bill Schuette in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
But the rally is still unlikely to help Dixon, DePerne and Karamo with voters who may already feel too pro-Trump.
Undoubtedly, Trump remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party. Polls show it both comfortably ahead of other potential presidential candidates from his party. He’s also polling with Biden in a potential 2020 runoff.
But cracks are also showing in Republican loyalty to Trump. Candidates for public office who emerged from primaries in Michigan and other states appealing to his most ardent supporters and repeating his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen are unlikely to fare well with a much broader pool of voters in November.
Based on history, the midterm elections should be good for Republicans with high inflation and an unpopular Democratic president. But the quality of Trump-era Republican candidates, combined with a surge of Democratic energy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, have raised doubts about whether the GOP can win back both houses of Congress.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.
Contact Todd Spangler at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler.