Trump licked the applause of Republican supporters when he described the United States as “destroyed before our very eyes” since he was eliminated, and harshly criticized his victorious rival, President Joe Biden.
“America’s survival depends on our ability to elect Republicans at all levels beginning in next year’s midterm elections,” Trump said. “We have to. We really have no choice. We are going to defend our freedoms.”
Trump described 2024, the year of the next presidential election, as “a year I look forward to,” prompting loud applause from the audience in Greenville, North Carolina, at the GOP state convention.
Addressing a sold-out crowd of around 1,250 for his first major speech since February, the 74-year-old Trump seemed to lack much of the energy and enthusiasm that he often brought to his most raucous and largest campaign rallies.
Verbal attacks on his favorite targets, including Biden’s China border policy, “radical left Democrats,” and “critical race theory,” drew wild cheers.
In contrast, the crowd was silent during their claims of successfully tackling Covid-19 and developing the vaccines that have helped quell the pandemic.
Banished from social media but no less influential among party loyalists, Trump has been politically active since leaving the White House in January.
On Saturday, he dismissed Facebook’s recent announcement that his ban would be two years for violating its rules for the deadly attack by his supporters on the United States Capitol.
“I’m not very interested in being allowed to come back in two years … so unfair,” he said.
On air again his false claims that electoral fraud denied him legitimate victory last year, he said that “there is no better example of Democratic and media corruption than the hoax of the 2020 election … That election will be considered. the crime of the century “.
“If you think people don’t see it. People see it,” he told the crowd, which included at least one woman in a “Trump won” cap.
Outside of office and off social media, Trump is now issuing a series of incendiary statements via email: he supports elected Republican candidates, launches virulent attacks on perceived enemies, and enjoys the role of kingmaker when meeting with allies and party leaders.
During the speech, his daughter-in-law Lara Trump took the stage to announce that she would not run for a Senate seat after speculation about political ambitions that could still establish a political dynasty.
“I’m saying ‘not for now,’ not ‘not forever,'” said Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump.
Trump, a billionaire businessman, has openly raised the idea of running for president again, but is not expected to make a definitive announcement anytime soon.
Only a handful of Republicans have dared to break with him, despite the Jan.6 assault on the Capitol by supporters mobilized by his baseless allegations of voter fraud.
Many Republicans still see him as a valuable asset ahead of the November 2022 midterm elections, when the party hopes to regain control of Congress from Democrats.
Democrats responded to Trump’s appearance saying that “more than 400,000 Americans killed (by Covid-19), millions of lost jobs, and reckless and dangerous rhetoric is apparently not enough for Republicans to break with a losing president.”
His enduring influence adds to his unique political journey, considering he was defeated after just one term and was indicted twice.
Trump spoke for about 90 minutes on Saturday, and in the coming months, he is expected to return to hold the big election rallies in which he thrives.
For many Republicans, the party’s focus on midterm campaigns should be a strong critique of Biden.
But Trump seems unable to abandon his theory, discredited by dozens of judges and state officials, that the last election was stolen from him.
Almost five months after leaving the presidency, and now comfortably settled at his Bedminster golf resort near New York, Trump has yet to explicitly acknowledge his defeat.