Former President Donald Trump was back on Pennsylvania Avenue – at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio – on the campaign trail for candidates he has recently endorsed in the state’s May primary. Surrounded by thousands of cheering red hat-wearing fans, Trump delivered a hopeful speech chock full of barbs at the administration, a warning that the GOP must win the midterms, and beseeching true Republicans to support his endorsed candidates. Number 45 is calling each of his pre-midterm events a “Save America Rally,” and if Ohio is any indication, the support base for the MAGA man is unwavering.
Joining The Donald were author and US Senate candidate J.D. Vance, Rep Mike Carey (R-OH), Max Miller and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, both candidates for the US House of Representatives – and the My Pillow man, Mike Lindell.
He hit the high points: Battering Biden and the Democrats on every issue. Deftly, Trump simply ticked off a laundry list of what America lost and what Americans are dealing with today: “We had virtually the lowest inflation, they have the highest. Immigration was under control.” And that is hard for the Biden administration to combat. Trump also used the word “hoax” several times – including one reference to climate change and the Green New Deal, which, he said, was designed “to take your money and destroy businesses and make our country impossible to live in.”
And respect? Trump said that America was previously respected worldwide, adding, “they may not have liked me, but they respected us.”
The former president also appeared to be embracing the unusual; a self-deprecating look at himself. When taking a swipe at the media assembled to cover the event, he quipped: “After my rallies, I would call the First Lady and ask how it looked, how my hair looked. She replied, ‘It was alright. The hair wasn’t good.’” That would be a new demeanor for this former scrapper.
Joe Biden was the main target, and he reminded the audience that the president struggled with shaking hands with the invisible man and was taking orders from the Easter Bunny. But all kidding aside, said, “no enemy could have done to this country what Biden has done,” speaking of decimating the energy industry in Ohio and across the landscape. “We walk on liquid gold,” Trump stated.
There were only three references to a “rigged election” and one mention of “mail-in voting,” but it was a visibly different Trump than the bombastic man focused only on his 2020 defeat. The gist of the rally was that America under the Trump administration was one worth living in and the new slogan was “Make America Great Again, Again,” for a “beat them in the midterms and again in 2024.”
The Trump Effect
Supported by Ohioans and folks as far away as California and Florida, the event did have a detractor or two due to the former president endorsing J.D. Vance for US Senate one week prior. Vance is the author of Hillbilly Elegy and is a thorn in the sides of more buttoned-up conservatives. Vance once claimed to be a “never-Trumper,” but came around to Trumpism and now has been awarded the political currency of a former beloved president’s nod.
Former state treasurer Josh Mandel, former state Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, investment banker Mike Gibbons, and state Sen. Matt Dolan were no-shows for the main event. However, even Gibbons’ campaign saw an opportunity to meet thousands of voters and held an event outside the fairgrounds earlier in the day. And that was after the outspoken and controversial Tea Party leader Tom Zawistowski endorsed Gibbons – and later tried to skewer Trump, saying conservatives “do not accept this endorsement” and adding, “Mr. President, you claim you won Ohio twice but let me be clear. You didn’t win Ohio. We the people worked our asses off and elected you twice.”
It appeared that Gibbons understands the Trump effect much better than Tea Party Tom Zawistowski. Or even Trafalgar polling. A recent survey conducted on 1,000 likely Republican voters shows that 54% would rather vote for a candidate Trump endorsed.
But of course, the midterms will be the deciding factor, as Trump stated: “we’re getting the word out better than ever.”