Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Trump reframes stump speech to include Harris as Democrats consider Biden’s future

Trump reframes stump speech to include Harris as Democrats consider Biden’s future

Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail with a new stump speech that made roughly equal work of skewering President Biden and Vice President Harris, recognizing the handwringing among Democrats over who should lead their ticket in November.

In a shift from earlier speeches, Trump criticized the current administration by calling it “Biden-Harris,” rather than using Biden’s name alone. He singled out Harris for her involvement in the administration’s response to the surge of migrants at the southern border and to Russian aggression in Ukraine. He consistently mispronounced Harris’s first name and used a nickname mocking the way she laughs.

Trump’s advisers have privately said they hope Biden will stay in the race because they view him as a weak opponent, though they have also expressed confidence about their chances against Harris. The hedging in Trump’s speech on Tuesday reflected how the fallout from Biden’s faltering debate performance and swirling questions about his ability to serve another four years have upended and redefined the campaign.

“Despite all of the Democrat panic this week, the truth is it doesn’t matter who they nominate because we are going to beat any one of them in thundering landslides,” Trump said. “Joe, Kamala and the entire Democrat establishment have been caught red-handed in the thick of the biggest scandal and the biggest cover-up.”

Trump attacked Harris by misrepresenting her record. He falsely accused her of never visiting the U.S.-Mexico border; she went in June 2021. He falsely said she was sent to Europe to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, when her trip was to warn Ukraine and rally allies. And he misleadingly accused her of wanting to ban gas vehicles; the Biden administration has implemented new emissions limits to cut greenhouse gases and encourage investments in electric cars.

Biden has insisted he’s staying in the race. Harris kicked off a three-day campaign swing in Las Vegas, defending Biden and assailing Trump’s agenda. Campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said, “Trump’s bizarre and unhinged rants won’t stop Vice President Harris from defending the Biden-Harris record and prosecuting the case against Donald Trump’s extreme record.”

Trump spoke at his golf club near Miami, his first campaign stop since a rally in Virginia on June 28, the day after the debate with Biden. He was joined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is a finalist to be Trump’s running mate, alongside Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio). With his formal nomination coming next week at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Trump alluded to the suspense of his vice presidential search by saying the press was probably expecting Trump to announce he was picking Rubio at Tuesday’s rally. But he did not.

At one point he teased that Rubio “may or may not” be in the Senate.

Monique Podsada, 43, drove four hours from Tampa to Doral with her husband Richard, 42, hoping that they could hear Trump announce his vice presidential pick. Monique thought the news was imminent as Trump mentioned Rubio, especially when he referenced him as he spoke about Harris. She said she worried that a Democratic nominee other than Biden could hinder Trump’s aim to win big.

“She’s mentally cognitive, I’ll give her that,” Richard said.

Trump also adopted the emerging Republican criticism of any Democratic attempt to replace Biden as violating the will of primary voters. Trump also challenged the president to a golf match, to which the Biden campaign responded by saying Biden “doesn’t have time for Donald Trump’s weird antics.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also attended the rally. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, did not.

Kornfield reported from Doral, Fla.

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