Trump delivers wide-ranging speech to New Hampshire hockey arena

DURHAM, N.H. — Former President Donald Trump returned to the Granite State for a Saturday rally at the University of New Hampshire, where he half-filled the school’s hockey arena with hundreds of MAGA faithful.

After mounting a stage set just to one side of center ice, the 45th President launched into his typically bombastic style of stump speech, jumping into attacks against President Joe Biden during his opening remarks and hammering the sitting commander-in-chief’s record as the address continued.

“Not one thing has gotten better under crooked Joe Biden,” Trump said. “Joe Biden and the Democrat Party are incapable of solving any problems.”

“All that will change when the polls close on election night in 2024,” he said. “By Christmas of next year the economy will be roaring back.”

Trump’s speech, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half, was wide ranging and somewhat rambling, jumping from topic to topic rapidly and with little or no evidence provided to back up his claims.

At one point early in his speech, he claimed the border between the U.S. and Mexico simply does not exist any longer, then later also claimed to have built over 500 miles of wall there.

“We don’t have a border anymore,” he said.

According to Trump, a continuation of Biden’s policies of “wasting trillions on Green New Deal nonsense” would inevitably lead the U.S. economy into a second Great Depression.

“You are going to be in the poor house to fund his big government Green New Deal, which is a socialist scam,” he said. “Let’s call it, from now on, the ‘Green New Scam.’ I like that. I just came up with that in my head.”

He said that his re-election would prevent Democrats from doing away with his tax cuts, passed during his first term. Those tax cuts were passed with a sunset clause and will expire in 2025 one way or the other unless reauthorized by congress.

Trump attacked the press, pointing the crowd toward the gathered national and local media, calling them “fake news.”

“Don’t you have anything better to do on a Saturday?” he asked the journalists invited by his campaign to attend his scheduled rally.

Trump spoke of his fellow Republicans. He called former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a “fat pig.” He said former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s rise in the polls wasn’t demonstrative of a “surge” compared to his own support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, he said, can’t keep his numbers from falling.

“You don’t want a candidate that will do the bidding of Wall Street, the military industrial complex, or the deep state,” he said.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan, orchestrated by Trump for the spring following the end of his term and postponed until after the following summer, was the “most embarrassing moment” in U.S. history, he said.

“For four straight years I kept America safe,” he said. “I am the only person who will keep you out of WWIII.”

The Make America Great Again campaign, he said, is the “greatest political movement” in U.S. history. He called himself “your all time-favorite president, me.”

On foreign policy, Trump said he would revoke China’s “most favored trade partner status” and establish a “reciprocal tariff” system, whereby foreign goods will be taxed domestically if U.S. goods are taxed elsewhere.

“They all rip us off,” he said of U.S. trade partners. “We will establish stiff penalties for China, and for all nations that abuse us.”

Trump attacked clean energy, parroting an oft-repeated talking point about windmills killing birds and whales. Solar is not powerful enough, he said, to keep U.S. manufacturing in motion. Trump promised to “kill” the federal government’s plans to mandate electric vehicle manufacturing.

“It’s a terrible thing they are doing to our country,” he said. “Drill baby drill — we’re gonna make so much money — we’re gonna drill baby, drill.”

Trump leads polling in New Hampshire and nationally by wide margins. According to polling averages by RealClearPolitics, he is ahead of the rest of the Republican field by almost 50 points and is polling about four points ahead of Biden.

“Joe Biden is a threat to democracy,” Trump said, before citing Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Victor Orban.

As far as his loss in 2020 and the looming rematch with Biden, Trump maintained as he has for years that he won the last race but that the White House was stolen from him. Over 90 felony charges leveled against the 45th president in the time since he left office are nothing more, he said, than an attempt to prevent his returning to power.

“They’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just standing in the way,” he said. “We’re engaged in a righteous crusade.”

The United States is not a free nation, Trump said, but it would be again if he were returned to the Oval Office for a second term.

“Our country is in great danger, he said. “Under my watch, Ukraine wouldn’t have happened, Israel wouldn’t have been attacked, inflation wouldn’t have happened.”

Trump closed his speech by speaking through an instrumental musical overture, his voice soft at first but rising with the song. The audience came to their feet as he delivered what was essentially a live campaign commercial.

“We are a nation that has lost its confidence, lost its will power, lost its strength. We are a nation that lost its way,” he said. “Three years ago we were a great nation, and we will soon be a great nation again.”

“Trump, Trump, Trump,” the crowd chanted.

An attendee buys food during a campaign rally for Former president Donald Trump Saturday in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha)

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