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In Michigan, Trump promises ‘historic effort’ to prevent cheating in 2024 voting

In World
May 02, 2024

FREELAND − Speaking at a Saginaw County airport, former President Donald Trump on Wednesday promised his campaign would mount “a historic effort” to prevent cheating in the 2024 election, working with the Republican National Committee and state parties “to ensure what happened in 2020 will never happen again.”

He didn’t provide details about the effort, including how it would be organized and what exactly it would be tasked with doing. But in the aftermath of the 2020 election he lost to President Joe Biden, Trump attempted to overturn that result, claiming fraud in several swing states including Michigan when in fact no such corruption was found.

Trump is currently facing criminal charges brought by the Justice Department for efforts to overturn the election, being accused of leading an effort to arrange fake slates of electors in Michigan and other states, pressuring officials to reject the outcomes of the election and spurring a mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6. 2021, as Congress met to certify the election.

“They cheat like hell,” Trump said in a speech at MBS International Airport in Freeland that lasted more than an hour and saw the former president portray Democrats as incompetent at anything but rigging elections and repeating a falsehood − as he has done on numerous occasions before − that in the 2020 election Detroit counted more votes than it had voters. “We’re going to watch them like hawks,” he said, this year.

While Trump didn’t provide details, it was a message that Michigan Republican Party Chairman Pete Hoekstra referenced before the former president spoke, urging supporters to volunteer as poll workers and observers. “When we have election integrity, we will win,” he said.

Former President Donald Trump exits his plane before speaking to a crowd of supporters during a rally at Avflight Saginaw in Freeland on Wed., May 1, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump exits his plane before speaking to a crowd of supporters during a rally at Avflight Saginaw in Freeland on Wed., May 1, 2024.

Portable toilets set up for the crowd included a flyer that read “Election Workers Needed” with a QR code to sign up.

Trump’s speech included many of the same falsehoods − on electric vehicles and suggestions that crime, especially that caused by immigrants, is rampant among other issues − that he has repeated at other Michigan rallies and events in recent weeks, with most recent polls generally showing him slightly ahead of Biden in a rematch between the two and the state expected to a key determinant of which candidates wins.

But he also sounded a pragmatic, more politically attuned note on the subject of abortion, letting supporters know that even if they are in favor of stricter regulations in Michigan or nationwide, they have to look past that divisive issue in order to win. Michigan is one state where the issue played out well for Democrats in 2022, with a referendum guaranteeing access to abortion and other reproductive rights passing in a landslide following the Supreme Court’s decision that summer to overturn Roe v. Wade and send the issue back to the states.

“Getting elected is also important,” Trump said. “A lot of bad things will happen beyond abortion if you don’t win.”

Trump also backed away from his demands in 2020 that voters go to the polls rather than embrace absentee voting by mail, saying while he wants to reform voting practices nationwide to require everyone vote on the same day, and winning − by whatever voting practices are available to supporters − is most important this year.

Meanwhile, he repeated false claims that Democrats support rules that allow for infants to be “executed” after birth as well as one suggesting that “most people” wanted to see questions about abortion decided at the state level. While Michigan has guaranteed abortion rights, many more conservative states have enacted far tougher restrictions and there are still efforts to try to get Congress to pass a national ban on abortions beyond a certain week of pregnancy.

Trump has refused to say whether he would sign or veto such a ban if passed, though he did tell Time magazine in a recent interview that he did not think such a ban would pass the Senate.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – Biden’s most prominent campaign surrogate in the state – held a roundtable for the president’s campaign in Flint focused on reproductive rights, referencing Trump’s role in overturning a longstanding national guarantee that abortion would be available by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices before his term ended.

“Donald Trump overturned Roe v. Wade and that is exactly why we’ve got chaos across the country. That’s why women are dying,” Whitmer said in a statement shared by the campaign.

Trump’s rally in Michigan Wednesday marked his third visit to the battleground state this election year. In hopes of repeating his 2016 victory in Michigan, Trump has again tapped into anti-immigrant and economic grievances this cycle. Meanwhile, as Biden campaigns for reelection, he has argued that democracy is on the ballot this fall after Trump tried to overturn the results of the last presidential contest. Biden has also focused on abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court handed the issue back to the states.

Biden’s campaign announced Wednesday that he would be back in Michigan soon as well − speaking at the Detroit NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund dinner on Sunday, May 19 − following other recent visits to Saginaw in March and to Warren in early February.

Michigan is one of several toss-up states in the presidential contest that could decide the election. Trump won the state in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes, or about two-tenths of a percentage point. Biden won it in 2020 by just over 154,000 votes, or just under 3 percentage points.

Trump made it to Michigan, and an earlier rally in the day in Wisconsin, under a legal cloud, however. On Thursday, he has another date in a New York City courtroom in a criminal case, facing charges of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment ahead of the 2016 election to a porn film actress with whom he was alleged to have an affair. The hearing will focus on the prosecution’s complaints that Trump has continued to violate a gag order the judge in the case imposed on Trump to not discuss people involved in the matter.

On Tuesday, before Trump hit the campaign trail again with a day off from that trial, Justice Juan Merchan fined Trump $9,000 fine for repeatedly violating the order and warned him that he will consider incarcerating him as punishment for future violations, if appropriate.

Four criminal cases, including two led by the U.S. Justice Department, have been brought against Trump, making him the first president in U.S. history to face criminal charges. The hush money case, however, may be the only one that goes to trial before the Nov. 5 election.

While Trump in the speech called Merchan a “corrupt and conflicted judge” and criticized prosecutors as taking orders from the Biden administration without any evidence that is true, he largely stayed away from other comments about the case which might be considered violations of the gag order. He did, however, continue to say the legal system has been weaponized against him, though he doesn’t believe it has hurt him.

Calling it “an exercise in very stupid and evil politics,” he said. “people get it, it’s a scam and people get it.”

Trump maintained a combative − and often belligerent − tone throughout the speech, lapsing into cursing on several occasions.

During the speech, Trump called to the stage former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, who is running for the Republican nomination for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat, calling him respected and urging supporters to vote for him. Rogers and Trump have endorsed one another but Rogers faces a somewhat crowded GOP field that includes former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, businessman Sandy Pensler and west Michigan physician Sherry O’Donnell.

“Plain and simple, Trump is a fraud,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes said ahead of Trump’s visit. “He has lied to Michiganders again and again − on jobs, on abortion and on every other promise he’s made. These visits don’t mask the fact that he has failed Michiganders for years and doesn’t actually care about helping them in the future.”

Contact Todd Spangler: tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter@tsspangler

Contact Clara Hendrickson at chendrickson@freepress.com or 313-296-5743. Follow her on X, previously called Twitter, @clarajanehen.

Looking for more on Michigan’s elections this year? Check out our voter guide, subscribe to our elections newsletter and always feel free to share your thoughts in a letter to the editor.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: In Michigan, Trump promises effort to prevent cheating in 2024 voting

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