FLORENCE — Donald Trump delivered a speech to thousands of ardent supporters in Arizona on Saturday, which the crowd enjoyed and again insisted he had won the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Some of the believers had arrived in the area days in advance from Florida or Texas and were waiting to present him with a familiar list of grievances.
They were soon rewarded.
“We are tired of letting Washington politicians control our lives. We’re done with warrants,” he said.
“The radical democrats want to make the United States a communist country.
“We won these elections. We won them big. We can’t let them get away with this.”
Previous speakers had stuck to similar themes, calling President Joe Biden “weak” and “disturbed” and targeting “lamestream media”, duly booed by the crowd.
It was a great success of Trumpism, playing all the expected tones: a stolen election, media injustice, open borders and how the United States has become “the laughingstock of the whole world”.
There was a carnival atmosphere for most of the day.
Flags reading “Trump 2020” and “Trump 2024” fluttered in the desert wind as chants of “Let’s Go Brandon” erupted from the cheering crowd.
The slogan became code in right-wing circles after a reporter misinterpreted crude anti-Biden chants.
“It’s just a party vibe,” said Jonathan Riches, who attended his 40th Trump rally.
“It’s almost like a Woodstock MAGA. They are patriots from across the country coming together for the common good of this country. We love our president.
Jennifer Winterbauer, who was the first to attend the rally, said she came to hear “the truth” from Trump.
“He always tells the truth about everything. The economy, the state of the world, the United States.
‘THE BIGGEST’ CROWD
Trump canceled a press conference promised on Jan. 6, the anniversary of his supporters’ invasion of the Capitol, and the rally is his first appearance before a large crowd since October.
As usual, Trump said it was “the biggest” crowd, “further than the eye can see”, although exact attendance figures were not immediately available.
Prior to his victory in the 2016 election and throughout his presidency, tens of thousands of supporters flocked to hear him speak.
But crowds have since dwindled and Saturday’s turnout appears to be much lower than previous rallies.
The rally on farmland, 100 miles from Phoenix, brought together a number of Republicans who repeated Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
That included Kari Lake, whom Trump has endorsed for this year’s run for Arizona governor. She has previously said she would not have certified Biden’s victory had she been in office at the time.
Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, which has spent millions of dollars to swing the election with a focus on the machines used to count ballots, told the crowd he wouldn’t give up.
“And I promise you that in 2022 there will be no elections with machines or computers,” he said.
Trump, who lost his Twitter megaphone over his election claims, has had a much more reserved presence in American politics since leaving office.
But he still plays a huge role in the Republican Party, where it’s often vital for members of Congress and state lawmakers to stick to his theories, or at least not publicly deny them.
FEW COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS
Trump has a sabbatical from mainstream media since leaving office.
But last week he ventured to National Public Radio (NPR), where he said he was recommending people get vaccinated against COVID-19 – a hot topic in the United States, where there are has wide coverage on the right, there is a delay in vaccination.
Despite the wave of Omicron variants sweeping the United States, almost no masks or other anti-COVID precautions could be seen among the crowds in Florence, Arizona.
Nationwide, more than 750,000 people test positive for the disease every day.
The rally comes 24 hours after pro-Trump TV broadcaster OAN was gutted of its main distributor.
Time and again, the ex-president has referred his fans to the conspiracy theorist who wants to hope for the Fox News-dominated market for right-wing viewers.
The event also comes after the founder of the Oath Keepers – a far-right militia – and 10 others were charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.