On a day off from court, fired-up Trump hits swing states

May 02, 2024
Donald Trump
Donald Trump

WAUKESHA, Wisconsin — On a day off from his criminal trial in a Manhattan court, Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail with back-to-back rallies in two battleground states.

The Republican presidential candidate has appeared at times irritated or lethargic in court while facing charges of falsifying business records — even at one point allegedly dozing off.

But on Wednesday at a rally outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he seemed fired up as he spoke to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters for about an hour and a half.

He hit on most of his campaign's major themes — immigration, the economy, foreign policy and his opposition to President Joe Biden.

As he usually does on the campaign trail, he frequently ad-libbed his remarks — "I'm 92% off teleprompter," he said in an implicit gibe at his Democratic rival, who he often accuses of being overly reliant on scripted remarks.

The former president was fined $9,000 (£7,180) this week for making derogatory public statements about people involved in the case, which revolves around a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actress who says she had an affair with Trump.

In Wisconsin, he briefly addressed his legal troubles.

"I got indicted — think of it — for nothing," he claimed.

"I have a crooked judge, he's a totally conflicted judge," said Trump, who is still free to criticize Justice Juan Merchan under the terms of his gag order. "Unfortunately it's a 95% or so Democrat area."

He went on to criticize the other criminal indictments against him and said "my poll numbers are higher than they've ever been". Most recent polls show him in a very tight race with Biden.

A new Emerson College Polling/The Hill swing state survey finds Biden slightly trailing Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Many of Trump's fans here said they believed he was being unfairly prosecuted and, echoing the candidate himself, that his criminal trial would eventually boost his standing at the polls.

"The trial is definitely going to increase his popularity," said Nancy Ridge, a supporter from nearby Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, who was wearing a jacket printed with Trump's mugshot on the back and the words "Wanted: for president".

"Especially among lower-class people who have been convicted of crimes or even falsely accused.

"They understand the justice system and how corrupt it can be," she said.

"It's free publicity," said Jerry Cleppe, another Trump fan waiting in a queue outside the event.

"It doesn't matter if it's good or bad, it's attention. The trial is a good thing."

Trump also addressed the pro-Palestinian student protests at US colleges and said the New York Police Department "did an incredible job" clearing an occupied building on the campus of Columbia University on Tuesday night.

"To every college president I say remove the encampments immediately, vanquish the radicals and take back our campuses for all of the normal students who want a safe place from which to learn," he said.

He also touched on abortion, in a week in which an interview with Time Magazine was seized upon by the Biden campaign as being anti-abortion rights.

Trump insisted that leaving the legality of abortion up to individual states was the right thing to do and that he thought "people are absolutely thrilled" with a state-by-state patchwork of laws on the issue.

After his rally in Wisconsin, the former president hosted another event in Michigan. He is due back in court in Manhattan on Thursday. — BBC

May 02, 2024
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