Trump thrills supporters in ‘freezing,’ wind-blown Lehigh Valley campaign rally

Former President Donald Trump appeared Saturday night at a fairgrounds in Lehigh County, seeking to sell thousands of his enthusiastic supporters on 2024 as a must-win election.

The 45th president, now running to become the 47th president, touched on a series of hot-button conservative issues, from illegal migration into the United States to transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.

His biggest target of the night, though, was President Joe Biden, as the two appear destined for a rematch following Trump’s 2020 loss that he falsely claims was “rigged.”

“On Nov. 5 we have to get Biden the hell out of office,” he told a crowd which according to one estimate was as big as 10,000 people, but which Trump said was 42,000 strong.

MORE: Trump faithful turn out by thousands for Schnecksville stump speech

Trump’s visit to the Lehigh Valley came days before he’s due Monday in a New York courtroom for his first criminal trial over alleged hush money payments to adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. The trial carries political ramifications as potentially the only of four criminal cases against Trump that could reach a verdict before voters decide in November whether to send him back to the White House.

“It’s clear to all, everyone on the federal level, that the Lehigh Valley is very important to anyone’s success statewide, at the state level, federal level, all the way up,” said state Sen. Jarrett Coleman, R-Bucks/Lehigh/Northampton, whose district hosted the event. Coleman also received a shoutout Saturday from Trump as he delivered his remarks on-stage.

Trump endorsed the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary election, David McCormick, but he did not publicly announce a pick in the three-way Republican race to challenge third-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District covering the Lehigh Valley.

Notably, Trump made no mention of abortion rights Saturday, after repeatedly taking credit for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. He’s said in other stops on the campaign trail that abortion access should be a state-by-state decision, angering some conservatives and opening the door to attacks by Democrats.

On Saturday night in Schnecksville, Trump seemingly could do no wrong with his faithful supporters, who broke out into chants of “USA,” “We want Trump,” and “Joe’s gotta go!”

“They’re not wrong, he’s done everything wrong,” Trump followed up on the last chant, calling Nov. 5 “the most important day in the history of our country.”

“Everything he’s touched has turned to (expletive),” Trump declared from beneath his signature red Make America Great Again cap.

Trump also said that had he defeated Biden in 2020, Israel would have never been attacked by Hamas militants last Oct. 7. He also mentioned Saturday’s attack by Iran on Israel. “Ukraine,” he uttered, in an apparent reference to Russia’s invasion that he promised to end if re-elected, preventing “World War III.”

“Peace through strength,” Trump promised, and the crowd ate it up as an earlier smattering of rain that fell on those gathering gave way to mostly sunny then starry skies, but with gusty winds still blowing.

“It’s freezing! I’m freezing my ass off up here,” Trump said, framed on stage by supporters on bleachers behind him and flanking him on both sides. Thousands who couldn’t get a seat in front of the stage stood on the grassy fairway where the Schnecksville Fair is held in summer.

Northampton County Republican Party Chairman Glenn Geissinger said that as he walked in he estimated the crowd about double the 5,000 he’d been expecting.

“I know that this is just one stop,” he told lehighvalleylive.com. “I expect to see him back in the Lehigh Valley before the general election. He knows that this area is important — that’s why he’s here.”

A polling average compiled as of Friday by RealClearPolitics showed Biden with just a 0.1-point advantage in Pennsylvania in the presumptive rematch with Trump. National polling reported by The New York Times on Saturday had Trump up with 46% of respondents, to 45% for Biden and 8% unsure or unwilling to say.

Trump focused much of his remarks, at times, on his legal challenges.

“Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it a great, great badge of honor because I am being indicted for you,” he said. “Never forget our enemies want to take away my freedom because I will never, ever, ever let them take away your freedom. They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you. And in the end they’re not after me they’re after you, and I just happen to be standing in the way, but I always will.”

He accused Biden of wanting to raise taxes, even as the president is headed to his hometown of Scranton on Tuesday to talk about who he believes should be paying more in taxes (billionaires) and who should be paying less (everyday Americans).

Trump’s No. 1 job if re-elected is to seal the border, he said, and “stop the invasion” of illegal immigrants threatening violence in American cities and the draining of Social Security and Medicare. They’re coming from Africa, he said, and Somalia, Syria and China.

“Are they trying to build a little army in our country?” Trump asked, also touching on the Chester County escapee who paralyzed neighborhoods last year.

He blasted U.S. Steel shareholders’ overwhelming approval this past week of the firm’s sale to Nippon Steel of Japan for $14.1 billion in cash, a transaction Biden opposed, as well.

“Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump repeatedly referred to his once and in all likelihood future opponent at the polls.

“We’re going to end up with no steel industry with this guy,” Trump said.

“I will pass the Trump Reciprocal Trade Act,” he vowed. “If China or any other country makes us pay 100 or 200% tariff, we will make them pay a reciprocal tariff of 100 or 200% right back. And you know what that is basically? You screw us, and we’ll screw you.”

Toward the end of his hour-long remarks, Trump painted America as a “nation in decline,” crescendoing as he promised to make America powerful, wealthy, strong, proud, safe and, finally, “great again.”

“It’s a very, very perilous time,” he said, calling the 2024 election “our final battle.

“With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State, we will expel the warmongers from our gov’t. We will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the communists, Marxists and fascists. We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country. We will route the fake news media, we will drain the swamp and we will liberate our country from these tyrants and villains, once and for all.

“Like those patriots before us we will not bend, we will not break, we will not yield, we will never give in, we will never give up, we will never, ever, ever, ever back down.”

Trump departed to “Hold on, I’m Comin’” Sam & Dave’s hit released in 1966.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com.


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