Trump pitches to rural voters in battleground of Wisconsin in speech short on policy and rife with falsehoods

President pledges $13bn to farmers but spends much of his speech denigrating his opponents

Richard Hall
Friday 18 September 2020 05:01
Trump complains about lack of social life since becoming president

Donald Trump made a pitch to rural voters at a rally in the battleground state of Wisconsin on Thursday, as polls show him trailing Joe Biden there by nearly seven points less than two months from election day.

Speaking in the city of Mosinee, Mr Trump announced $13bn in relief for farmers to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t immediately clear who exactly would benefit, but the president referenced Wisconsin’s “dairy, cranberry and ginseng farmers who got hurt badly.” 

The new aid follows $19bn for US farmers announced by the White House in April.

The announcement was one of the rare moments in which the president discussed policy during the rambling speech, most of which was devoted to attacking Mr Biden and other top Democrats.

In roughly an hour and a half at the podium, Mr Trump claimed a Biden presidency would mean “no guns, no religion, no energy, no oil” — none of which are part of the Democratic nominee’s platform.

He added that Mr Biden would “eradicate” Wisconsin’s economy and “hand the left wing mob the keys to your kids’ classroom.”  

Returning to his election theme of law and order, Mr Trump claimed to have “saved the suburbs,” referencing the Wisconsin city of Kenosha, which was the site of civil unrest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The president has previously taken credit for sending the National Guard into the city to deal with an outbreak of violence following the shooting — something the state’s Democratic governor had already done by the time Mr Trump called for it.

Much of the rest of the speech was a tour of Mr Trump’s favourite culture war topics: flag-burning, protests by athletes and the “radical left”.

"We have enough politics, right," he said of American football players who have held protests to draw attention to racial injustice. "People don't want to see it and the ratings are down."

Mr Trump diverted from his message at times to attack Democratic politicians, using racist language to criticise Elizabeth Warren, referencing Hillary Clinton’s emails and hitting out at Mr Biden’s running-mate, Kamala Harris.

“If a woman is going to become the first president of the United States, it can’t be her,” he said of Ms Harris. “That would rip our country apart. This is not what people want. And she comes in through the back door.”

He also complained about the damage to his social life since becoming president,  and said the US had done “an incredible job” tackling the coronavirus, despite the country have the highest number of deaths globally.

Thursday’s visit to Wisconsin was his fifth trip this year, and comes as polls show him trailing his Democratic opponent by just under 7 points on average, according to the FiveThirtyEight poll tracker.

Mr Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2016, helped by a strong showing among rural voters. The president has focused his campaign on repeating that performance by aiming his messaging at the suburbs and rural communities.  

Mr Trump was last in Wisconsin a little over two weeks ago to visit the city of Kenosha following violent unrest sparked by the police shooting of Mr Blake. The city became the focal point of both campaigns following the incident and resulting violence.

Kenosha became a tinderbox in the days after the shooting, with rioters facing off against armed vigilantes. Tensions rose further when 17-year-old Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed two people during the protests.

Mr Trump visited the city in the days after to pitch a law and order message that has become central to his campaign pitch.

“To stop the political violence, we must also confront the radical ideology that includes this violence,” he said at a roundtable discussion on community safety during his visit.

Two days later, Mr Biden arrived in Kenosha to deliver his own pitch: one of unity.  

“I think we’ve reached an inflection point in American history. People are beginning to figure out who we are as a country. This is not who we are,” Mr Biden said during his visit.

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