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At latest Trump rally, his diehards relish Biden rematch

Angela Wilkinson, a 48-year-old insurance agent from Maine, offers little doubt about where she stands politically
Angela Wilkinson, a 48-year-old insurance agent from Maine, offers little doubt about where she stands politically - Copyright AFP/File Yasuyoshi CHIBA
Angela Wilkinson, a 48-year-old insurance agent from Maine, offers little doubt about where she stands politically - Copyright AFP/File Yasuyoshi CHIBA
Michael Mathes

Draped in a colorful campaign banner and wearing an oversize “God, Guns and Trump” medallion around her neck, Angela Wilkinson insisted at a political rally that her hero will oust Joe Biden from the White House next year.

Just two days after Biden launched his 2024 reelection bid, his likely Republican opponent Donald Trump descended on early-voting New Hampshire Thursday to energize supporters and boost their confidence that he can reclaim the job he lost to the veteran Democrat.

Many including Wilkinson, a 48-year-old insurance agent who drove several hours from the northeasternmost state of Maine to see Trump speak, said at the rally in a Manchester hotel ballroom that they were relishing the prospect of another Biden-Trump showdown.

“A rematch? There wasn’t even a match to begin with” back in 2020, an exasperated Wilkinson said, alluding to largely debunked claims of election fraud she and others repeated at the event.

“But bring it on,” Wilkinson, hand on one hip, said with a grin. “Because Biden is going to get annihilated. And for sure we’re not going to have any election meddling” in 2024.

New Hampshirite native Anne-Marie O’Neil agreed. “I don’t like Biden,” and “there should be a rematch,” said the 63-year-old licensed nursing assistant.

Asked whether she was prepared for a bruising battle which could feature Trump campaigning while under a shadow of legal woes, O’Neil didn’t flinch: “I have the stomach for anything.”

– ‘He’s a fighter’ –

Trump arrived in New Hampshire with bad news weighing on his campaign.

This week a woman writer testified in a New York court that Trumped raped her in the mid-1990s.

His vice president Mike Pence appeared Thursday before a grand jury investigating the 2001 US Capitol riot by Trump supporters.

And earlier this month Trump appeared before a judge to face indictments related to hush-money payments he made to a porn star just before the 2016 election. 

Still, the MAGA base refused to be distracted by the barrage of legal challenges.

“It pushes him forward, he’s a fighter,” O’Neil said. “They’ve been after Trump since Day 1.”

And Trump reminded his audience as much, recounting a series of old grievances — the 2020 election was “rigged,” Democrats are “weaponizing” the subpoena process, the “corrupt global establishment” is aligning to defeat him once again.

His fans cheered wildly though when Trump, himself 76, mocked his 80-year-old Democratic rival, imitating a lost or stumbling elderly man and then pledging: “We’re going to crush Joe Biden.”

The brash billionaire also recounted a greatest hits of talking points in his more than 90-minute address.

He said, among other things, that he is the only candidate who “will prevent World War III,” illegal immigration has made the United States a “dumping ground for the entire world,” and that the United States is now, under the Biden administration, run by “stupid people.”

– ‘Like a zombie’ –

Despite an eye-popping $787.5 million payout by conservative-leaning Fox News to settle a lawsuit claiming the network willfully aired Trump’s false claims including accusations of election fraud, his supporters in Manchester insisted much of what was deemed conspiracy theories by critics was actually true.

“I don’t believe he lost the election at all,” said Maureen Anderson, 43, from neighboring Massachusetts. “I think he won in a landslide, you know?”

One supporter, a Vietnamese American in his late forties who identified himself as Tin Tran, was decked out in a cowboy hat and a suit that read “ReTrumpbution Now” in gold letters down the back.

He expressed fears that Trump was facing a corrupt Democratic team that would do anything to keep the Republican leader out of the White House.

“They’re going to steal the election again!” he said with a loud flourish as Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” played on the rally’s audio system.

Biden is “like a zombie, so easy to control him behind the scenes,” Tran added.

While Mike Osene and his wife Anne, both 45 and from Connecticut, expressed less radical views about the race, and conceded that Trump lost in 2020, they both were optimistic about challenging Biden once again.

“If there is a rematch, I think Trump will wipe the floor with him,” Mike Osene said.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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