Donald Trump has once again rallied voters on a message of fear and foreboding about the hellscape that the US would become if his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, wins the presidential election in November.
“You know, I hate to say it, I'm the only thing standing between you and chaos,” the president told hundreds of tightly packed supporters — many of whom were not wearing masks — at an airport in Swanton, Ohio, the last in a series of campaign stops in the state on Monday.
“Your children will be robbed of their future. The damage will endure for generations to come. We have to win. This is the most important election in the history of our country,” Mr Trump said.
The roughly hour-long speech featured the standard fare of pot shots against Mr Biden that those following the race closely will recognise from previous campaign events.
“Let's face it. Joe Biden is incompetent. He always was, even in primetime. He was incompetent in primetime. And now he's really incompetent,” the president said, referring to his unsubstantiated theory that Mr Biden is senile and mentally incapable of commanding the presidency.
Mr Biden has denied — and, at times, laughed off — the notion that he is senile.
As Mr Trump prepares to announce his nomination this upcoming weekend to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer, he warned his supporters that Mr Biden would “pack” the court to dilute what is expected to be a conservative majority.
Throughout the Democratic primary campaign, Mr Biden expressed his opposition to court-packing.
“We add three justices — next time around we lose control, they add three justices,” he said at a debate last year.
That did not stop Mr Trump, reading from his teleprompter, from falsely stating the opposite.
“If Joe Biden and the Democrats take power, they will pack the Supreme Court with far left radicals who will unilaterally transform American society far beyond recognition. They will mutilate the law, disfigure the Constitution and impose a socialist vision from the bench that could never pass at the ballot box,” he said.
Mr Trump reaffirmed his commitment to nominate a woman to the high court, joking to his audience, however, that he “doesn't want to make the men mad” by doing so.
Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview just an hour later, his close ally Lindsey Graham said Senate Republicans would confirm that pick before the 2020 election.
The leading candidates are reportedly federal Appeals Court Judges Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit.
The president met with Ms Barrett at the White House on Monday before heading to boarding Air Force One for Ohio.
“She's one of the people that's very respected, but they're all respected,” Mr Trump said, when asked whether Ms Barrett was on his short list. “She is certainly one of the candidates, yes.”
Mr Trump also doubled down on his concept for a “patriotic education” commission for American schools to teach children to “love America,” a plan that has been likened to the Hitler Youth programme from Nazi Germany.
“I announced last week that we're launching a pro-American lesson plan for students. [The] 1776 [Commission],” Mr Trump said to a roar of applause from his supporters at an airplane hangar rally near Dayton, Ohio, on Monday.
“We will teach our children the truth about America — that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth, and we are getting better and better all the time. … No party can lead America that will not teach our children to love America,” the president said.
Among Mr Trump’s other false statements about Mr Biden on Monday were accusations that he is a proponent of “communism” and that he would abolish the Second Amendment that enshrines the right for every American adult to bear arms.
Mr Biden is not associated with the Democratic Socialists of America, which counts New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among its ranks, and has disavowed the need for socialism in the US.
“We need — not just in my country, but in other countries — a more progressive tax code. Not confiscatory policy, not socialism — a tax code,” he said in 2016 at a speech before the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
And on guns, the Biden campaign has proposed a comprehensive plan to curtail assault weapons and mandate universal background checks for all firearm sales, among other regulations. But he has never said he would abolish the Second Amendment or forcibly take away Americans’ guns.
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