Trump Seizes Weekend Break from Court Battles for North Carolina Rally

Former President Donald Trump will campaign in North Carolina on Saturday, taking a weekend break from the courthouse to juggle legal issues and his rematch with President Joe Biden.

Trump’s evening rally in the coastal city of Wilmington is his first since his criminal hush money trial began this week with jury selection in Manhattan. The occasion provides the former president with a new opportunity to magnify charges that his several pending indictments are part of an establishment conspiracy to bring him down — and, by extension, to silence the voters who originally elected him eight years earlier.

Trump Seizes Weekend Break from Court Battles for North Carolina Rally

“They want to keep me off the campaign trail,” Trump said earlier this week in Harlem, where he stopped by a neighborhood convenience store and addressed a crowd of reporters outside. Instead of pursuing dangerous criminals, he claimed, “They go after Trump.”

The event Saturday also highlights the significance of North Carolina, a presidential battleground that Trump won by 1.5 percentage points over Biden in 2020. That was the closest margin of any state Trump won. Saturday will be Trump’s second visit to the state in as many months.

“The presidential race is going to run through North Carolina,” said Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper in a recent interview.

North Carolina is one of seven states to which both the Trump and Biden teams have pledged considerable campaign resources to win. Trump has stated that he intends to broaden the map, even into his own New York, which is traditionally Democratic.

Most Republicans, however, think that Trump will face a difficult path to an Electoral College majority if Biden wins North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes. Trump implicitly accepted North Carolina’s standing by appointing then-state Republican Chairman Michael Whatley to manage his campaign’s successful takeover of the Republican National Committee.

There is no precedent for the kind of campaign Trump now needs to run, both in North Carolina and nationwide.

With opening arguments in his trial scheduled for Monday, Trump will be restricted to the courtroom for the foreseeable future, limiting his ability to meet with voters, fundraise, and make phone calls. Biden, on the other hand, spent several days this week campaigning in Pennsylvania, another critical battleground.

Trump advisers have promised weekend rallies and activities on Wednesdays, the only weekday when Trump’s trial is scheduled to be recessed. The former president’s campaign has also promised more nightly visits throughout New York, including in Harlem.

That schedule increases the pressure on Trump to make the most of his limited opportunities to address people and command media attention outside of his indictments.

In North Carolina, Biden’s team has already hired statewide leaders and field organisers for state posts. That’s in addition to state party staff, who launched an organising campaign last year ahead of local races and are now looking ahead to this year’s statewide races, including an open governor’s race because Cooper is forbidden from pursuing a third term.

“We needed to build energy on the ground early,” said state Democratic Chairwoman Anderson Clayton, recalling that the previous Democratic presidential nominee to win North Carolina, Barack Obama in 2008, had organized the state in a tightly contested primary campaign that heated up the year before.

Trump Seizes Weekend Break from Court Battles for North Carolina Rally

Matt Mercer, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican Party, responded that senior GOP staffers had been working in the state since the 2020 election cycle. Mercer stated that the GOP, from Trump to volunteers, will prioritize a family-first message on economic and public safety.

People, according to Mercer, “understand the importance of what those messages mean to them in their daily lives” and that they are “fed up” with Vice President Joe Biden, “whether it’s with sky-high inflation, the open southern border or the migrant crime crisis.”

Trump will be joined Saturday by North Carolina Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark Robinson, whom Trump has backed and referred to as “Martin Luther King on steroids.” Robinson is the state’s first Black lieutenant governor.

Cooper narrowly won the governorship in 2016 and 2020, attracting just enough swing voters despite the fact that Trump won the state in both elections.

The governor said that Biden’s record, which includes low unemployment, rising wages, stable inflation, infrastructure, and green energy initiatives, will appeal to a state with a diversified geography and demographics.

Joe Biden did more in his first two years than most presidents hope to do in two terms,” Cooper said, adding that contrasting Biden’s successes with Trump’s baggage will inspire people to reelect the president.

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