Trump urges supporters to cast early ballots in Michigan primary

Waterford Township — Former President Donald Trump, who has spent years criticizing absentee voting in Michigan, on Saturday night urged supporters to cast early votes in person ahead of the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary.

Municipalities across Michigan on Saturday started offering early, in-person voting for the first time after voters mandated it in a 2022 constitutional amendment.

“You can do that or you can wait a little bit,” Trump said of early voting at the outset of a speech inside a hanger at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township.

Trump is favored to win Michigan’s presidential primary and subsequent caucuses on March 2 in Detroit, but the former president urged supporters to turn out and vote.

“We want to send a signal,” Trump said. “Don’t wait. Get out and vote.”

More: How voting in Michigan elections is about to change — again

The former president said he’s focused on the general election and likely rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden, who defeated him in 2020. Trump has repeatedly blamed absentee votes cast by mail or in-person at city clerks offices for his loss, while making dubious claims of election fraud.

“But we want to win Nov. 5 — get this guy out,” Trump said.

Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered Saturday afternoon to hear the former president speak at 7 p.m. amid temperatures in the low 20s and a bitter wind chill that made it feel like 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trump also used the first half of his speech to attack a New York judge who ruled Friday that the longtime real estate developer has to pay $355 million in fees for lying about his wealth for years in a scheme that duped banks and insurers.

“He’s a crooked judge,” Trump said

Trump decried the ruling, vowing to end what he called a “weaponization of this horrible legal system that’s developed around us.”

“This is a real threat to democracy,” Trump claimed.

He later added: “We haven’t done anything wrong.”

More: Inside Donald Trump’s ouster of Michigan’s Ronna McDaniel as RNC chair

Before the rally, attendees inside the airport hanger were being offered hot chocolate and hand warmers. The venue was open to the outdoors on one side.

Dave Brady, 60, drove from Trenton to attend the rally 10 days before Michigan’s presidential primary.

Brady, a diesel mechanic by trade, said the wide majority of his neighbors were planning to vote for Trump in a likely rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in November.

“I like his no-nonsense approach,” Brady said of Trump.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, whom the Republican National Committee is recognizing as chairman of the Michigan GOP, said Trump is at a positive place in the state.

“It’s the grocery bill, stupid,” Hoekstra said, echoing the legendary line “it’s the economy stupid” coined by Democratic strategist James Carville in Bill Clinton’s 1992 election as president.

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