President Donald Trump came to Tucson to host a rally for his re-election campaign Monday, Oct. 19. The rally was part of a two-stop trip through Arizona, with a rally in Prescott on Monday morning before flying to Tucson Airport.
Arizona has now become a key battleground state for the presidential election, with the latest polls from Monmouth University showing Joe Biden with a slim lead over Trump. Arizona’s electors will become key for whoever wins the state on Nov. 3.
Trump’s planned trip to Tucson was not well received by the city, however. Mayor Regina Romero sent a letter to the president, ordering his rally to obey city public health guidelines in regard to COVID-19 and requesting that his campaign pay previously-owed debts from a 2016 rally.
“It would be deeply unfortunate if one gathering jeopardized all of the progress we have made thus far," Romero said. "That’s why I respectfully request that the Trump campaign does everything in its capability to ensure that our local ordinances are respected and followed during this event."
Mayor Romero also addressed Trump’s outstanding debt with the city and his rally’s costs.
“As a reminder, the campaign does have $80,000 in outstanding expenses owed from a 2016 rally,” she said. “Based on our current understanding of your campaign event on Monday, the city’s cost estimate for public safety response services is $50,000. Since this is a campaign event, we respectfully request that you reimburse the city and its taxpayers for these expenses.”
At the rally, 2,000 people showed up to attend, some waiting hours in line in 90-degree weather. Most were not wearing masks, including President Donald Trump. Outside on the airport grounds and inside the rally, there was little social distancing and no effort to enforce mask-wearing or social distancing by campaign staff, volunteers or law enforcement.
Rene Palomino, an Air Force Veteran and dual citizen of Mexico, commented on why he believed Trump was the best candidate to represent Mexican-Americans like him.
“He believes in helping out Mexicans just as much as Americans, and he believes in doing things in a legal way. Also, I think he and [Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador] are good partners and both have in mind what's best for Mexico,” Palomino said.
Trump’s speech addressed a variety of topics, from COVID-19 to immigration to the economy. He also led a vigorous attack on Biden’s family and his campaign.
“Biden will delay therapies, postpone the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, close down schools and shut down the country,” Trump said.
Some of the president’s claims, however, conflicted with goals already outlined by Biden’s campaign.
In a bid for support from Arizona seniors, Trump said, “The Biden plan would be a catastrophe for Arizona seniors. He is pledging amnesty and free healthcare to all illegal aliens. They’re all going to get free health care, free education … I say well, give them all a Rolls Royce.”
Trump aligned Biden’s campaign with police abolition after repeated objections from both VP Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris.
“They want to dismantle your police departments, resolve your borders and confiscate your guns,” Trump said to the Tucson crowd.
The president was adamant about emphasizing his relationship with law enforcement, who showed up in force to help facilitate his rally.
“The Democrat party’s war on cops is inciting riots and putting police officers and American families in grave danger," Trump said. "Unlike Joe Biden, I will support the heroes of law enforcement."
Trump was also quick to commend the acts of federal troops, many who were controversially deployed to protests in Portland and Minneapolis to patrol and make arrests.
“We would have taken 15 minutes if we went into Portland," Trump said. "We would’ve solved that in 15 minutes. We went into Minneapolis and it only took 30.”
Attacks on Biden were also directed at his age, his family and his son, Hunter Biden.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Biden family is a criminal enterprise … Hunter Biden is a middleman; he gets [money] from China, from Ukraine,” Trump said. “And Biden’s not at the top of his game mentally, you can’t have that.”
Trump also spent time targeting a demographic that helped him win big in 2016, suburban mothers.
“They want to destroy your suburbs,” Trump said. “With me, your suburbs are gonna be safe. You’re gonna have safe suburbs and there won’t be low income projects built right next to your house.”
Later in his speech, the president used his previous diagnosis of COVID-19 to help assure the crowd that the pandemic is almost over.
“The pandemic is rounding the turn, vaccines are coming and I look fine don’t I?” Trump asked.
The President added that he had been given the drug Regeneron, an experimental drug not yet approved for emergency use by the FDA.
“I woke up and I felt good!" Trump said. "I said ‘Get me out of here!’ Boom, Superman.”
He also touted the previously announced “Operation Warp Speed” which will fast-track vaccines to the American public.
“Through Operation Warp Speed, we will have 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year and our military is going to distribute them,” Trump said.
Halfway through the speech, Trump invited up to the podium Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who lauded the President for his leadership.
“Mr. President because of your policies, Arizona’s economy is booming," Ducey said. "Home values are rising faster than anywhere else in the nation and Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”
The governor then urged the crowd to vote “no” on proposition 208.
The president also acknowledged the presence of Arizona Senator Martha McSally and Congressional candidate Brandon Martin at the rally, the latter of which he said was a “rising star.”
Trump then transitioned to the economy, claiming to have ushered in record low unemployment poverty for black, Hispanic and Asian Americans.
“We lifted 6.6 million Americans out of poverty, including more than 1.5 million Hispanic Americans,” Trump said. “That’s a record … Our policies are lifting up all Americans of every income. Since the China virus, we created 11.4 million American jobs.”
He continued with an appeal to border patrol, criticizing the opposition in the process.
“Joe Biden’s party continues to attack our incredible border agents, more than half of whom happen to be Hispanic Americans," Trump said. "The Republican Party will always stand with the heroes of ICE and border patrol.”
Trump called Biden’s immigration plan “extreme” and cited the plan’s use of the “catch and release” policy as evidence.
“If Biden wins, your borders are gone,” the president said. “Which means your healthcare is gone, the middle class is gone and your safety is gone. They want to suspend all removals of illegal aliens.”
He closed out his rally by denouncing his opposition, characterizing them as socialists and calling on his supporters to get out the vote.
“I’m seeing where these people want to take us," Trump said. "They want to take us into a land that’s never worked. Look at Venezuela, it’s the same ideology, the same philosophy, it’s just a much bigger version. But we can’t let it happen. The United States will never be a socialist nation.”
Several University of Arizona Wildcats were in attendance, some of which agreed to speak with the Wildcat.
Oliver and Justin* are both juniors, majoring in communications and aerospace engineering respectively. They admire Trump because he’s “unafraid to speak his mind,” he has a strong stance on domestic security, specifically citing their concerns about protests and riots in Portland, and because of his economic policies.
“Check your 401K, for sure,” Justin said. “Pre-COVID it was doing great and it’s recovering better than was ever expected.”
Tate Moeller a sophomore majoring in biosystems engineering said he likes Trump because of his economic policies, foreign policy and patriotism.
“You don’t have to agree with Trump’s behavior,” Moeller said, “but if you look at what he’s done on paper, he’s a pretty damn good president.”
*Editor's Note: Oliver and Justin's last names have been withheld at their request.