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Trump rails against ‘political’ legal battles, attacks primary rivals in Las Vegas rally

Saturday’s rally was a typical Trump affair, as the former president cast himself as a victim of persecution and the only person who can save the country.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Election 2024Elections

Former President Donald Trump continued to decry his ongoing legal battles over attempts to subvert the results of the 2020 election during a freewheeling rally at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip on Saturday, while claiming that a 2024 loss would also be attributed to fraud.

Saturday’s event before an estimated 1,000-person crowd at the Stoney’s Rockin’ Country was billed as a way for voters to pledge early support for Trump in Nevada’s February caucus, but Silver State issues were largely left out of Trump’s hourlong speech. Instead, he spent much of the time attacking how elections are run across the country, slamming primary opponents and calling for the end of certain gender-modification procedures.

In his many off-the-cuff tangents, Trump mimed President Joe Biden as not knowing where he is, bemoaned how the words “fat pig” cannot be said anymore and said allegations that Trump has enjoyed participating in “golden showers” cannot be true because he’s a germaphobe.

The event marked Trump’s first campaign event since four of his co-defendants in a lawsuit brought by Georgia prosecutors pled guilty over their efforts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election. In an apparent reference to their plea bargains, he referred to them as “weak people.”

“These animals have been going after them for three years, they said, ‘Oh, well, let me say, let me make up a story about Trump off to do anything, just leave me alone,’” the former president said.

It was also the first rally since a New York judge imposed a $10,000 fine on him for violating a gag order in his ongoing civil fraud trial. He called Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, who is Black, a “racist” and the judge a “Trump hater.” 

The crowd was most engaged when Trump brought up the 2020 election. 

“These elections are so rigged, and we're not going to allow it to happen anymore,” Trump said. “You don't have election night anymore, you have election period. Because some of these stupid things go 48, 49 days. What do they do during those 49 [days] — they cheat.”

Nevada was among the states that opted to send mail ballots to all voters during the COVID pandemic, a change that resulted in extra days needed to count ballots and call races in the state’s narrow 2020 and 2022 elections. 

Trump’s campaign filed multiple lawsuits in Nevada in a bid to upend a 2-point victory for Biden, in part through baseless allegations of dead voters appearing to have voted. An investigation by then- Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, found no “evidentiary support” for such claims. 

Trump also touted his substantial polling lead — a polling aggregator from FiveThirtyEight shows Trump leading in the primary polling average by 42.8 points — and in the process took repeated shots at his primary opponents. After crediting himself for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial victory, Trump called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was referred to by Trump as “Bird Brain.” 

“And I tell you, he’s dropped like a falling bird, badly injured, badly injured from the sky,” Trump said of DeSantis. “He’s gone down, and I don’t even know if he’s in second place anymore. I think somebody said that Bird Brain is now in second place.”

The rally was Trump’s second campaign event in Las Vegas this year and his second speech of the day, following his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual summit on Saturday morning.

Before the event, campaign volunteers passed out commit-to-caucus cards for people to fill out with their contact information — a common organizing technique used by campaigns in the caucus process.

There will be both a Republican caucus and primary election in Nevada in February, but only the results of the state party-run caucus will count toward a candidate’s delegate counts. Trump is participating in the caucus, along with DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 

The primary will include Haley and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday morning but will still be on the primary ballot after missing the withdrawal deadline.

The caucus process has been sharply criticized by some of Trump’s opponents — especially the DeSantis-backing super PAC Never Back Down — for allegedly favoring the former president. 

Several attendees of the rally told The Nevada Independent they were unaware of the caucus and primary election differences until Saturday.

Above all on Saturday, Trump described himself as a victim of a system actively trying to stop the GOP’s leading candidate from holding office. Many of his supporters agreed.

“They’re trying to arrest our president,” a man before the event hollered. “Fight back.”


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