Former President Trump blasted members of his own party on Saturday, demanding that Congressional Republicans show some ‘spine’ as he unleashed his anger after they allowed President Biden more time to raise the debt ceiling.
In front of thousands of adoring fans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, he delivered a greatest hits show.
He attacked Biden’s spending plans as a ‘socialist calamity’ that would unleash stagflation, boasted that he never conceded the 2020 election but directed his biggest blast of anger at Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell for working with Democrats to lift the debt ceiling.
‘Congressional Republicans must stay strong. This isn’t the time for Republicans to fold, to walk away, to quit, to be afraid,’ he said.
‘Whatever happens, happens. Don’t worry about being impeached, don’t worry about anything…
‘But they just don’t seem to have the spine some of them.’
Last week 11 Republican senators voted with Democrats to suspend the filibuster, effectively allowing them more time to stave off a looming debt default.
‘They can now have two more months to work out how to screw us,’ said Trump.
Former President Trump blasted members of his own party during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday night. The visit – to a key state in the 2024 nomination race – will be seen as another sign that Trump is planning to run for the White House again
‘Congressional Republicans must stay strong. This isn’t the time for Republicans to fold, to walk away, to quit, to be afraid,’ Trump told his fans in Des Moines, Iowa
His visit to Iowa, with its place at the start of the nominating calendar, is the latest piece in a will-he, won’t-he dance as the former president teases a 2024 run.
But it was supposed to be a chance to boost Republican candidates in next year’s midterms.
He made clear it was the right kind of Republicans he wanted to boost, ‘America First’ Republicans.
His visit came as lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 violence tighten their focus on Trump and his top aides.
On Friday, the former president said he would do everything possible to shield his presidential records from the investigation, setting up a potential legal battle after the White House said he had no right to claim ‘executive privilege.
And it follows new books picking over the Trump presidency with a stream of embarrassing headlines.
Saturday brought a chance for the former president to adopt the role of entertainer in front of his fans in Iowa.
The state is a key place for anyone considering a 2024 run. Its status as the first caucus allows can allow candidates to catapult themselves into contention with a strong ground game.
Trump was making his first visit to Iowa since last year’s election campaign. It is a key state for anyone planning launching a run for the White House
Thousands of people waited all day for Trump to appear a little before 8pm local time
Insiders say it holds particular importance for Trump. He was the first Republican to win the state since George W. Bush in 2004 – despite losing the caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz.
The latest polling suggests he has grown in popularity since leaving office.
The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows 53 percent of Iowans have a favourable viewing of the former president, giving him his highest ever rating.
He got a warm welcome from Sen. Chuck Grassley who touted Trump’s record as one of promises made and promises kept.
‘President Trump ran on a platform of tax cuts, and he delivered the biggest tax cut in the history of the country,’ he said to roars of approval.
‘President Trump ran on a platform of criminal justice reform, and he signed the criminal justice reform that I sponsored.
‘President Trump ran on a platform of securing the borders and the borders were secure.’
Amid all the talk of 2024, the moment was a reminder the rally was a chance for Trump to rally support ahead of next year’s midterms.
‘Iowa is absolutely critical to our efforts to take back the House and Senate in 2022, and then the White House in 2024,’ he said in a fundraising message to supporters this week.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was among the speakers after recently announcing that he planned to run for an eighth term in next year’s midterms
Crowds browsed dozens of stalls selling Trump merchandise – from T-shirts, pins and koozies to knives – before the gates to the event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds opened on Saturday
But it also gave him a chance to put on a show for his supporters with attacks on his favorite targets.
He railed against Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic Kabul airlift.
‘They had no idea who is getting on those planes. We still don’t have any idea,’ he said.
‘Only three percent were qualified to be taken to a place called the United States of America, is that something? Three percent.
‘You’re going to be hearing from those people over the coming years, in a very bad way.’
He dismissed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a ‘nut job’ and called on his supporters to sweep Democrats from Congress.
‘They’ve all got to go,’ he said.
‘Practically every single Democrat lawmaker in the House and Senate has endorsed deranged legislation. And that’s why every single one of them has to be voted out of office,’ he said.