WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that while he has been busy creating jobs and killing terrorists, Democrats have been focused on “demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts and deranged partisan crusades.”
Speaking at a political rally in deep-blue New Jersey, Trump told a crowd of cheering supporters that Democrats have been working for three years to overturn the results of the 2016 election. He vowed they would not succeed.
“We will make sure they face another crushing defeat in the next election,” Trump said. “We are going to have a victory that is even greater than 2016.”
“We are going to keep on winning, winning, winning,” he promised.
Trump’s rally in Wildwood, N.J., a resort city on the southern Jersey coast, came just hours after his legal team wrapped up its defense in his Senate impeachment trial, which Trump dismissed as “a hoax” and a “scam.”
While New Jersey is considered Democratic territory, the southern part of the state skews more conservative and is considered friendlier terrain for Republicans. Even so, New Jersey is a long shot for Trump in this fall’s election. Four years ago, he lost the Garden State to Hillary Clinton by 14 percentage points.
One side benefit of the Tuesday’s rally: The location enabled the Trump campaign to receive media coverage from nearby eastern Pennsylvania, a key state in the 2020 race.
Delivering what has become his standard stump speech, Trump told the crowd at the Wildwoods Convention Center that he has cut taxes, rebuilt the military, reduced illegal border crossings and lived up to his campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
The hour-long rally also gave Trump a chance to repay a political favor to Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a freshman party-switching congressman from southern New Jersey.
Van Drew, who traveled to New Jersey rally with Trump aboard Air Force One, was one of only two House Democrats to break ranks and vote against both articles of impeachment.
Van Drew later switched his party affiliation to the GOP, a move that Trump welcomed during a visit between the two in the Oval Office on Dec. 19, the day after the House’s historic vote. Trump, whose surrogates encouraged the congressman to join the Republicans, will return the favor by campaign for Van Drew’s re-election bid at Tuesday’s rally.
At the rally, Trump called Van Drew “a courageous” and “principled” leader who, like many voters, got tired of the Democrats’ “vile hoaxes and scams.”
“He has had enough of their extremism,” Trump said.
Van Drew, who took the stage to cheers and received an embrace from Trump, said this fall’s election will be a “flash-point election.”
“Are we going to allow ourselves to be just like every nation the world?” he asked. “Or are we going to keep America great?”
Offering a New Jersey version of his stump speech, Trump recited a record that included new trade deals, a bigger defense budget, counter-terrorism actions and the economy.
Trump also introduced aides who hail from New Jersey, including presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who told the crowd: “Two new trade deals, two Supreme Court justices, two dead terrorists – that’s two terms!”
In their rebuttal, Democrats returned fire by slamming Trump on health care.
“Trump, yet again, lied to people with pre-existing conditions about protecting their health care when he’s done everything he can to put it at risk,” Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said after the rally. “It’s scary that he’ll lie to patients but it’s terrifying that he might be narcissistic enough to have started believing it.”
While Trump portrayed himself as a friend of New Jersey, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., took to Twitter and urged Garden State residents not to forget what he called Trump’s “broken promises that hurt New Jerseyans.”
Earlier Tuesday, the line to get inside the convention center began forming even before daylight.
Nick Ruggiero of Staten Island took his place in line around 3 a.m. The 20-year-old drove two and a half hours with a friend to Wildwood and was able to secure a hotel room.
“We were in the room for about an hour and saw the line start to form and figured if we want a good spot we better get down there,” said Ruggiero, who was dressed in all red. “We’re a country divided right now between the Left and the Right, and we have to come and show support. A lot of people my age, in my generation, think very differently than I do and I’m just excited to show my support for the president.”
Jenn Korndoerfer, 41, of Waretown, N.J., stood deeper in line with her mother, fingers crossed they would make it inside the convention center.
“Just to be a part of the excitement and to support Donald Trump, it’s worth it,” Korndoerfer said. “The whole experience so far has been great, and we just want to show him that New Jersey loves him.”
Michael Collins and David Jackson cover the White House. Reach Collins on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS and Jackson @djusatoday.
Contributing: Anthony V. Coppola of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post