Douglas Andrews / June 28, 2021

Trump Draws a Crowd in Ohio

He focused on how important it is for the GOP to take back Congress in 2022. But there’s more.

You wouldn’t know it by the lack of media coverage, but former President Donald Trump was back in campaign mode this weekend for the first time since leaving office. He wasn’t holding a 2024 campaign rally, though. First things first. When he greeted the crowd at Ohio’s Lorain County Fairgrounds, about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland, he told them they were attending “the very first rally of the 2022 election.” He then vowed, “We’re going to take back the House, and we’re going to take back the Senate. We have no choice.”

The event was dubbed a “Save America” rally and was the first of three expected public appearances for Trump. Next up will be a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday at the invitation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, followed by a rally in Sarasota, Florida, on July 3.

You can watch the rally below. (Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan’s remarks during the first 5:30 are well worth it. From there, you might skip ahead to the 55:00 mark, when Trump takes the stage.)

Trump spent plenty of time on a topic we’ve been watching closely: the woke leadership of our Armed Forces. “The Biden administration issued new rules pushing twisted critical race theory,” he said. “Our generals and our admirals are now focused more on this nonsense than they are on our enemies.”

He continued: “You see these generals lately on television? They are woke. … The military brass have become weak and ineffective leaders. And our enemies are watching and they’re laughing.”

Trump’s choice of Ohio for his first rally was understandable. He carried the swing state by a comfortable eight-point margin in 2020, and he obviously feels at home there. But he was also there to throw his support behind a former White House aide, Max Miller, who’s mounting a primary challenge to an Ohio congressman who voted to impeach Trump. As the Columbus Dispatch reports:

Trump not only attacked Democrats, he also took aim at members of his own party, including Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a northeastern Ohio congressman who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him on a charge of inciting the attack on the Capitol.

The Ohio Republican Party’s governing board voted in May to censure Gonzalez and called on him to resign. Weeks earlier, Trump hit back at Gonzalez by throwing his support to Max Miller, who is running against Gonzalez in next year’s GOP primary. Miller worked for Trump on the campaign trail and in the White House, and Saturday’s rally was held in part to promote Miller’s candidacy.

Of course, Trump also unloaded on Joe Biden “squandering all this hard-earned respect that we have — or had — bowing down to our enemies and embarrassing our country on the world stage.”

And he told the hard truth about Biden’s border czar’s suddenly urgent visit to the non-crisis border town of El Paso: “Kamala Harris, your vice president, only went to the border yesterday for one simple reason — that I announced that I was going.”

As has been his practice, Trump made no commitment about his 2024 plans. He railed against the 2020 election results, though, calling it “the crime of the century” and saying that he’d “already won the presidency twice; it’s possible we’ll have to win it a third time.”

Can Trump still draw a crowd, even to Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio? You tell us.

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