eatFormer President Donald Trump held a rally in Wilmington on Friday, his first since New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her lawsuit against him, his three oldest children, business associates and the Trump Organization earlier this year. week.
Not surprisingly, his complaints about that lawsuit took up most of his speech, immediately followed by the FBI raiding his Mar-a-Lago home. But the rally was also the former president’s chance to return a conquering hero after most of the candidates he supported in the state won their primaries. In addition, Mr. Trump continued the practice that caught the attention of many people in Ohio where he played dramatic music, which led to people holding their fingers in the air, although not that many.
Here are five takeaways from Mr. Trump’s rally in Wilmington
Trump’s takeover of the North Carolina GOP
In 2021, Republican Senator Richard Burr, who is retiring, voted to impeach the former president for his role in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. In turn, Mr. Trump chose to endorse Representative Ted Budd, who opposed the results of the 2020 presidential election. Throughout the rally, Mr. Trump addressed the congressman directly, whom he endorsed instead of former Gov. Pat McCrory;
By contrast, during the state’s primary, North Carolina’s Republican establishment — including senators Thom Tillis and Tim Moore — supported a primary challenger against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the right-wing caucus that Mr. Trump endorsed. However, there were no signs of dislike.
Similarly, Mr. Trump chose not to invite Mr. Tillis, despite the former president criticizing the gun legislation the senator helped negotiate with Democrats.
Instead, he focused on his ties to the state — like the fact that his daughter-in-law Lara Trump is from Wilmington and the fact that he tried to recruit her for the Senate race.
“You know, he’s so popular. He grew up in North Carolina. She’s incredible,” he said, though he noted that she was the one who suggested he endorse Mr Budd.
Likewise, he noted how he owned property on Lake Norman, which is just outside of Charlotte.
“Actually, I’d like to go from here, Ted, to Lake Norman and do something,” he said.
Trump’s preferred candidate in the May primary for North Carolina’s 13th district, Bo Hines, also spoke at the rally, saying “President Trump may be the first president to actually deliver on every single one of his promises.”
Lawsuits are still pending
Although the rally was ostensibly for Republican candidates in North Carolina and Mr. Trump is not on the ballot, he could only focus primarily on executing an FBI search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago home in West Palm Beach or to Ms. James’s lawsuit against her.
Indeed, before Mr. Trump took the stage, the two screens at the sides of the stage played a quote from Fox New host Jesse Watters comparing Mr. Trump’s document storage to that of the previous four former presidents.
But the former president also used the rally to air his grievances against Ms. James’s lawsuit against him, his family and his business organization, which he called “The Art of Stealing” at a press conference on Wednesday.
“There is no better example of the chilling obsession with targeting political opponents than the baseless, abusive and vile lawsuit against me, my family, my company, by the racist attorney general of the state of New York,” he said, giving her the nickname “Letitia”. ‘Peekaboo’ James.”
Trump’s disdain for black women is evident throughout his speech
Mr Trump’s dislike of female public figures who challenge him – be it Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Meryl Streep or Rosie O’Donnell – is well known. But throughout his speech, he repeatedly mocked Ms. James, a black woman, in incredibly personal terms, saying she was more focused on attacking him than violent crime.
“This raging maniacal campaign about clamoring for office and being rabid about its goal — its only goal is to beat Donald Trump,” he said of Ms. James. “Actually, I was watching it and I was like, ‘boy, this woman is angry, I don’t think she likes me very much.’
Mr. Trump and Republicans as a whole have zeroed in on crime as a way to criticize Democrats and win back suburban women voters after the Supreme Court overturned Dobbs v Jackson. Along the same lines, she criticized Budd’s Democratic challenger, Cheri Beasley, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who is running to become the state’s first black female senator.
Specifically, he cited a report by the Federal Election Commission in which Republicans have also pointed out that Ms. Beasley’s campaign appeared on a joint fundraising committee with Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, a member of the Caucus that advocates cutting police funding, the which the Associated Press mentionted last month.
“He wants to defund the police,” he said, despite Ms Beasley saying she wants to increase police funding. “She’s crazy; How the hell do these people get votes? By cheating.”
The Big Lie becomes a regular talking point for the campaign
Throughout the rally, Mr. Trump noted how he won the election twice, even though he didn’t, and accused Democrats of stealing the election. This was despite winning North Carolina twice, although he won by a narrower margin in 2020.
But he called for an end to early voting and said voting should only take place in person on election day with hand-marked paper ballots. Last week, The New York Times mentionted that Mr. Budd’s spokesman, Jonathan Felts, refused to say whether he would accept the election results if he lost and went so far as to say that Ms. Beasley would be disenfranchised.
But he is not alone. House Speaker Tim Moore spoke specifically about what he called “election integrity.”
“We will continue to work on this because we know that elections must be free, fair and just,” he said. “What’s the best thing you can do? How about it? A really complicated idea: Require people to vote on Election Day, in person, with photo ID. This makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
At the same time, Mr. Trump had to balance his lies about the election with the need to motivate voters.
“You have no choice,” he said. “We are not going to have a country left. You have to get out. You have to swamp them.”
Trump’s finger salute moment is being revived
During his rally in Ohio last week, Mr Trump and rally-goers confused many when he played dramatic music while attendees he pointed one finger in the air. Mr. Trump repeated the practice this time, though fewer people appeared to raise their fingers in the air during the rally.
A few people who attended the rally had QAnon memorabilia, with some attendees wearing QAnon hats and a van bearing a picture of Mr Trump with John F Kennedy Jr and former president John F Kennedy, prominent figures in QAnon conspiracy theories.
Gay Gaines said she approved the use.
“I loved it, it was very moving, very touching, very inspiring, very refreshing and hopeful,” she said. “Good way to end it.”
This came as the former president posted a series of QAnon-related content on Truth Social, his networking platform. Lisa Pyle, who wore a Q hat, told the Independent she appreciated the use of the Q symbol.
“I think it’s great,” he said, but added that he did not vote in the upcoming election.
“Hell no,” he said. “Would you vote in a split election if you knew? If you knew the truth?’