© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former United States President Donald Trump reacts during his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, USA, June 26, 2021. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton
By Gabriella Borter
SARASOTA, Florida (Reuters) – Former US President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday, his second campaign-style event of the summer, as he seeks to maintain his grip on the Republican Party and beef up allies sooner. of the 2022 midterm elections.
The rally, billed as a July 4 celebration with fireworks, is expected to draw several thousand people from across the state that Trump, a Republican, won by more than 3 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election.
By afternoon, several thousand people dressed in red, white and blue had arrived at the Sarasota Fairgrounds for the rally, some wearing Trump 2024 T-shirts and waving American flags.
Trump is likely to rebuke President Joe Biden, repeat his false claim that he lost the 2020 election due to fraud, and urge his supporters to back their allies in their midterm campaigns as Republicans fight to regain control. of the Democratic Party Congress next year. .
Jack Brill, chairman of the Sarasota County Republican Party, said he hoped the former president would use his speech to galvanize supporters ahead of the midterm elections and the Florida gubernatorial race.
“I hope this encourages everyone as we move towards our 2022 elections,” Brill said.
The Sarasota event is the latest in Trump’s return to public life after his electoral defeat and the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol, which was carried out by his supporters who believed his false claim that the elections were manipulated.
About 53% of Republicans believe Trump won and blame his defeat on illegal voting, and a quarter of the general public agreed that Trump won, a Reuters / Ipsos poll from May 17-19 showed. .
Trump held his first comeback rally on June 26 in Wellington, Ohio, where he expressed support for the primary campaign of his former White House aide Max Miller against US Representative Anthony Gonzalez, who had voted to impeach Trump. for the assault on the United States Capitol on January 6. .
BUILD BY 2024
The 75-year-old Trump has raised the possibility of running again for president in 2024, and his 2021 rally series marks his effort to keep his base energized and on his side.
Whether he runs could hinge on the outcome of some of the investigations and lawsuits Trump faces.
On Thursday, Trump’s namesake company and its chief financial officer pleaded not guilty to criminal charges filed as part of a Manhattan district attorney investigation into alleged tax fraud. Trump has accused prosecutors of being politically motivated.
Many Republicans see 42-year-old Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as an attractive option for a 2024 party candidate. Longtime Trump ally, DeSantis has been at the forefront of Republican-led struggles against strict coronavirus shutdowns, racial justice protests and expanded access to ballots.
In an informal 2024 poll of potential candidates at a conservative conference in Denver in June, DeSantis finished ahead of Trump, 74% to 71%.
DeSantis’s office has said the governor is focused on winning re-election in Florida next year, not on running for national office.
Lindsay (NYSE 🙂 Gordon, a 35-year-old Sarasota resident who works in retail, said it was her third time attending a Trump rally and was excited to show her support for the former president. He said he hopes Trump will run again, but thought DeSantis might be a better, less polarizing alternative.
“I think DeSantis would probably have a better chance since he’s younger,” Gordon said. “Because it is still new and fresh, there is still a chance that people will understand where it came from. There is not so much negativity.”
DeSantis was not attending Trump’s rally in Sarasota, a spokesman said, as he plans to spend the weekend in Surfside, Florida, where rescuers have spent more than a week searching for survivors in the rubble of a condo building collapse that he killed. at least 24 people and missing scores.