He is back: Trump says he will “take back” White House

January 17, 2022 - 22:53

TEHRAN— One year after losing the race to reenter the White House, Donald Trump has set the course for a tumultuous midterm election season, attending a campaign event in Arizona where he invigorated his following, resurrected baseless allegations about electoral fraud, and hinted at a 2020 presidential bid.

Trump slammed his critics and used the gathering to support loyalists and election deniers running for state and federal office this year in a speech aimed to restore his influence within the Republican Party.

"This November, we have an opportunity to accomplish something very spectacular," Trump told the adoring audience that had waited for hours in the Arizona desert town of Florence. 

"This is possibly the most critical election we've ever had, but I believe 2024 will be even more crucial. This is the year when we take back the White House."

The rally was the former president's first campaign event of the year, arriving only days after the one-year anniversary of January 6, 2001, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Thousands of Trump supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol on that day after he vowed to "fight like hell" to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election victory.

Trump had planned to host a press conference at his Mar-a-Lago club to commemorate the occasion, but cancelled due to worries from several Republicans that it would not be a good look.

The Arizona event, on the other hand, provided Trump with sufficient opportunity to air his frustrations.

He took the stage just after 7 p.m. local time and unleashed a 90-minute rant against President Joe Biden and the "radical left," criticizing his successor on issues ranging from the coronavirus and the economy to immigration and the failed departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

At a time when Biden is struggling to get voting rights reforms passed in the Senate, his predecessor chimed in, calling for same-day voting (the Democrats want early voting to be expanded); paper ballots (rather than the electronic one commonly used in the U.S.); and an end to ballot harvesting (the process in which third parties are allowed to collect and deliver ballots in some states).

And within minutes of starting his speech, he once again repeated his false claim that the election was “rigged”, insisting without evidence that “the proof is all over the place - the media just refuse to talk about it.”

The gathering was a stark reminder of Trump's continued clout in the party, as well as his signature brand of reward-and-retribution politics.

Loyalists such as state politician Mark Finchem, who was with demonstrators outside the Capitol on January 6, and congressman Paul Gosar, who was recently censured for an animation video depicting him killing a Democratic representative, attended the event.

Former television host Kari Lake, Trump's choice to replace Arizona's current Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, also went on stage with him.

While Trump remains popular among his supporters, some Republicans are concerned that some of the candidates he has sponsored may be unpopular with the general public.

Limitations to his authority were also revealed this week, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would fight for re-election as the chamber's top Republican leader, and no one appeared to be opposing him — despite Trump's persistent push to remove him.

Meanwhile, as reported by the Associated Press, prominent Republicans in Washington are working behind the scenes to persuade Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, one of

Trump's most enthusiastic opponents in the party, to run for a Senate seat. And, on Saturday, Glenn Youngkin was sworn in as the first Republican governor of Virginia since 2010, despite conducting a campaign that distanced himself from Trump.

Nonetheless, Trump will remain ever-present as America prepares for the midterm elections, in which Democrats are largely projected to lose their majority, making it much more difficult for Biden to deliver on his ambitious first-term plan.

All 435 House seats, as well as 34 of the 100 Senate seats, will be contested.

Trump has stated that he will make a decision on whether to run for president again after the midterm elections, but he and his associates have been working for months to bring proponents of the "stolen election" myth to office.

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