The smell of horse manure wafted through the air at a rally Friday night in Arizona as thousands of attendees awaited the arrival of President Donald Trump.
He descended from Marine One to thunderous applause from a sea of “Drain the Swamp” signs and red “Make America Great Again” caps, scattered with pink “Women for Trump” placards.
The president’s remarks, about 50 minutes long, followed a clear pattern. He interspersed boasts of his own accomplishments with jabs at Democrats and immigrants, all while urging Arizonans to vote for Republicans on or before November 6.
In their intensity and content, his remarks were a testament to the competitiveness of the midterm elections in Arizona, as well as the pressure Republicans are under to try to maintain control of Congress.
The rally, held at a hangar at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport, was aimed at encouraging Arizonans to vote in next month’s elections for Republicans, especially Senate candidate and current Congresswoman Martha McSally.
“Your vote in this election will decide which party controls Congress,” Trump told the crowd of several thousand. He compared McSally’s record to that of her opponent, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, casting McSally as a courageous fighter pilot and Sinema as beholden to Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, whom he likened to a "mob."
The crowd booed, as if on cue, at every mention of Pelosi.
Trump’s ego was also on full display.
A vote for McSally “will be the second-greatest vote you ever cast,” he said. “The first greatest vote is for me.”
Trump claimed that McSally was well ahead of Sinema in early voting, although whether those results have actually been released remains unclear. The latest poll also shows Sinema with slight lead over McSally.
He urged people to vote, on November 6 or before then. If they left the rally early to go vote, he said he wouldn’t mind.
Of his accomplishments, he claimed that his administration had created more than 4.2 million new jobs in less than two years and lifted over 4 million Americans off food stamps. But according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture published in June, more than 2.2 million — not 4 million — have left the program due to reforms such as work requirements
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Trump also proclaimed that “we’re winning, we’re winning” against China after cracking down on its “highly abusive trade practices.”
He used those claims and others to bolster the argument in favor of voting for Republicans, whom he promised would secure the border. “We will keep the criminals, drug-dealers, and terrorists the hell out of our country,” he said.
By contrast, he claimed that a victory by Democrats in November would be “a bright invitation to every drug dealer and illegal alien on the planet.”
“Many of you already have your ballots," Trump said. "Return them today! Return them tomorrow! Vote early."