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Trump airs list of false grievances at Florida rally: ‘We don’t eat bacon anymore’ | US elections 2024


Trump airs list of false grievances at Florida rally: ‘We don’t eat bacon anymore’ | US elections 2024

US elections 2024

Ex-president returns to campaign trail in Doral and makes baseless accusations but doesn’t name running mate

Wed 10 Jul 2024 03.01 BST

Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail in Florida on Tuesday night, hurling insults at Joe Biden and airing a litany of familiar grievances, but declining to name a running mate for November’s general election.

The former president and presumptive Republican nominee was speaking to a crowd of several hundred supporters at his golf club in Doral, a western suburb of Miami, keeping them waiting in 90F heat for a freewheeling monologue that began more than an hour later than scheduled.

There was speculation that he might use his first public appearance since last month’s debate with the president to announce Florida senator Marco Rubio, who was present, as his vice-presidential pick, six days ahead of the Republican national convention (RNC) in Milwaukee.

Instead, Trump delivered a rambling 75-minute speech that included a succession of attacks on Biden and his faltering debate performance, which has raised questions among Democrats on whether the 81-year-old president was robust enough for a second term of office.

He seized on the post-debate turbulence that has prompted calls from some senior Democrats for Biden to step down and nominate Kamala Harris.

“The radical left Democratic party is divided in chaos, and having a full scale breakdown all because they can’t decide which of their candidates is more unfit to be president, sleepy, crooked Joe Biden or laughing Kamala,” he said, repeating previous derogatory terms for the pair.

“Despite all the Democrat panic this week, the truth is it doesn’t matter who they nominate because we are going to beat any one of them in a thundering landslide.”

Trump has kept a lower than usual profile in the days since the debate, a strategy an aide described as designed to allow Democrats to tear into each other following Biden’s dismal debate performance.

His remarks on Tuesday were notable for adding the vice-president’s name to numerous attacks on Biden policies, and sprinkling in mentions of both Rubio and Byron Donalds, a Republican Florida congressman also believed to be on Trump’s shortlist for vice-president.

Otherwise, it was a standard Trump stump speech, full of evidence-free claims that his 2020 election defeat was fraudulent; baseless accusations that overseas nations were sending to the US “most of their prisoners”; and a laughable assertion that a gathering of supporters numbering in the hundreds was really a crowd of 45,000.

It also touched on the surreal. Biden, he insisted, had raised the price of bacon four-fold.

“We don’t eat bacon anymore,” Trump said.

Electric cars, he said, “cheated” the US public because drivers had to stop for three hours to recharge their vehicles after every 45 minutes of driving. And, in an echo of one of the more bizarre debate exchanges with Biden over who was the better golfer, he challenged his White House successor to 18 holes over the Doral course while granting a 10-stroke concession.

“It will be among the most watched sporting events in history, maybe bigger than the Ryder Cup or even the Masters,” Trump said, pledging $1m to a charity of Biden’s choosing if he lost.

Returning to politics, Trump assailed Democrats for tax rises he said they wanted to impose; criticized Biden for the US military’s chaotic 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan; and promised to build an “iron dome” missile defense system for the US, if he was elected in November.

Perhaps worn down by the energy-sapping humidity, the crowd appeared mostly subdued, including yawns in the bleachers behind him as Trump drew to a close with slow music playing, and others tapping disinterestedly on their phones.

His campaign had touted the possibility of Trump announcing a vice-presidential pick on Tuesday, but in the end his only reference to the post was suggesting that Rubio might or might not still be in the Senate to vote to allow Nevada waitresses to keep their tips untaxed.

There was no mention of Ohio senator JD Vance, or North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, other Republicans said to be on the shortlist. Trump will rally again on Saturday in Pennsylvania, close to the Ohio border, with Vance expected to be a speaker.

Earlier on Tuesday, Democrats, on a Biden campaign call featuring first lady Jill Biden, and previewing Trump’s Doral rally, mocked him for his low-key approach since the debate.

“I hope he hasn’t exhausted himself with all the golf that he’s been playing,” Texas congresswoman Veronica Escobar said.

“Speaking of staying off the campaign trail, Trump has been hiding a lot recently, not just from voters and from the press, but from Project 2025.

“Donald Trump tried to pretend that he had nothing to do with Project 2025 despite the fact that it was written for him by the people who know him best. And yesterday, his campaign preview of the RNC platform, was just as unhinged and extreme as Trump himself. They left out some of the most unpopular specifics that we know they support.

“As usual, they’re trying to hide the ball from the American public.”

Trump, in his speech Tuesday, avoided mention of Project 2025 or his policy on abortion.

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