KENOSHA — President Trump proclaimed he brought “law and order to Kenosha” as he returned to the southeastern Wisconsin city for the first time since touring the damage left by violent protests that followed the police shooting of a Black man.
As he has in past rallies, Trump falsely claimed he sent the National Guard into Kenosha to help quell the violent riots after the shooting of Jacob Blake. Gov. Tony Evers first authorized sending the Guard to Kenosha at the request of local officials following the first night of violence in August.
Evers sent more troops the next day as the White House offered to send in federal officers from Homeland Security, but the guv turned down the offer.
“We sent in the Guard, and we saved Kenosha,” Trump said, adding later he thought afterward, “You know, I think Kenosha is going to like me.”
Trump’s stop, the fourth of five on Monday, was the usual mix of boasts such as building the “greatest economy of all time” before the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of grievances against the media and others, and slams on “Sleepy Joe” Biden.
His 10th visit to Wisconsin of 2020 also included a series of swipes at the U.S. Supreme Court after it refused to block an extended deadline for absentee ballots in Pennsylvania, calling it “dangerous.”
The state Supreme Court there ordered ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted so long as they’re received within three days. Though the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t block the order, several conservative justices indicated the issue could be revisited after the election, and Trump has threatened further legal action.
Trump argued those who wanted to vote absentee should’ve put their ballots in the mail several weeks ago and called the U.S. Supreme Court ruling “a political decision.” He said his lawyers are “going in and fighting” and hoped the court’s “wisdom will prevail” and the justices will do something.
“You can’t have a population that’s going to be very, very angry. You just can’t do that. That’s such a dangerous decision,” Trump said, adding later he doesn’t trust Philadelphia officials to run a clean election.
Ahead of Trump’s rally, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, accused the president of encouraging coronavirus superspreader events and using Kenosha “as a prop” for political gains.
In a state Dem Party virtual event, the Milwaukee Dem said Wisconsinites know Trump is only in the city to try and spread “his vitriol, hatred and division,” following civil unrest in the area over the summer in the wake of the police shooting of Blake.
“It’s just a shame that the entire administration has not cared about the people in Kenosha as early as Jan. 28,” she said, referencing reports that Trump knew how dangerous the virus was at the time while still publicly playing it down. “For one thing, we’ve experienced the highest level of COVID-19 just yesterday, and he doesn’t listen to CDC guidance, and encourages these superspreader events.”
Trump largely didn’t mention the pandemic other than repeating his claim that the country is “rounding the turn” and touting a coming vaccine. He also recounted his own battle with the disease.
The visit comes amid a string of polls in the closing days that show him trailing Biden among likely Wisconsin voters. At one point, he urged the crowd, “You can’t let this happen to our country.”
At another, the president expressed wonder at how he could be trailing Biden.
“Could he really win? Are we serious about this? What the hell is going on?” Trump said.
The rally was plagued by microphone problems. Early on, there was constant feedback, and he joked “That means we don’t have to pay for the microphones because they did a bad job.” The crowd then broke into a chant of “turn it up!” prompting Trump to pause for a new handheld microphone to be brought out. The issues continued off and on throughout the more than hourlong event, and Trump complained the mic was “garbage” and the “worst microphone I’ve ever used in my life.”
He noted the sound system was set up by someone from Kenosha “so I’m going to pay the bill anyway” before joking with the crowd off and on about declining the pay for the service. At one point, the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump came to the stage and dropped the mic when it was handed to her.
Watch the video here.