Former President Donald Trump held his first campaign-style rally of 2022 in Arizona, lashing out at President Joe Biden’s “destructive” economic policies, his vaccine mandates, and the alleged persecution of Trump’s supporters.
Citing soaring inflation, rising gas prices, and shortages of food and consumer goods, Trump told a thousands-strong crowd in Florence, Arizona that Biden has caused “more destruction than five presidents in the last year,” and has set America on a path to becoming “a large-scale version of Venezuela.” The allegory was apparently referring to the hyperinflation that has plagued the Venezuelan economy over the past decade.
“Our country is being destroyed… it’s not even believable,” Trump told the crowd.
Though he has not yet formally announced another run for the White House in 2024, Trump has held several rallies since leaving office last year. At every one, he has restated his claims that Biden’s electoral victory in 2020 was fraudulent, and Saturday’s event was no different, with the former president claiming that “more and more” information was coming out to prove that the election was “rigged and stolen.”
Trump also slammed the Democrats’ focus on last January’s Capitol Hill riot, calling the Democrat-run committee investigating the riot “the unselect committee of political hacks.” The former president also drew attention to claims that the riot was orchestrated by federal agents or informants in the crowd, as pro-Trump news outlet Revolver News has reported.
Scores of Trump’s supporters remain detained without trial in Washington, DC since the riot, and allegations of abuse in the DC jail have surfaced. Trump, who until now has been mostly silent on the alleged suffering of these detainees, drew attention to their plight on Saturday.
“They release dangerous criminals from jail, but January 6 defendants are living in hell,” he thundered. “They’re being hounded like the worst animals. The jails are filthy and disgusting. We should help them defend themselves.”
Trump’s nod of support to the January 6 defendants suggests the former president is listening to his most fervent supporters, who have long called for him to condemn their alleged mistreatment. Likewise, Trump came out strongly against vaccine mandates and other coronavirus measures on Saturday, several weeks after he drew the ire of his supporters by calling on them to get vaccinated.
“They’re wrecking and devastating people’s lives, firing Americans from their jobs, forcing innocent children to grow up in masks… locking people into their homes. What they’ve done over the last year… going mandate-crazy… I say enough is enough and we’re not going to take it any more,” Trump declared.
At another moment during his speech, Trump mockingly quipped that Biden has made Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci “the king,” prompting the crowd to chant “Lock him up!”
“In 2024, we are going to take back the White House,” Trump declared during Saturday’s rally. However, the former president has previously stated that a formal announcement regarding his possible candidacy will “probably” come after this November’s midterm elections.