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Trump Returns To Ohio, And The Campaign Trail, With Lorain County Rally

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Wellington, Ohio. [Tony Dejak / AP]
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Wellington, Ohio. [Tony Dejak / AP]

Former President Donald Trump visited Lorain County Saturday for the first of a series of rallies to support Republican congressional candidates.

The “Save America” event was his first visit to the state since November 2020 and his first post-presidential rally.

Supporters began gathering days in advance at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington to hear Trump’s Saturday night remarks at a rally ostensibly in support of GOP congressional candidate Max Miller.

Miller is taking on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in the Republican primary, attempting to leverage Gonzalez’s vote in favor of impeachment to take the 16th Congressional District seat.

Over the course of more than an hour, Trump briefly threw his support behind Miller while also touching on many of his usual issues – including immigration, COVID-19, election fraud and corruption – and calling for more Republicans to get the vote out in coming elections.

“Next year, the Republican red wave is going to begin right here,” Trump told the crowd. “We will fight for more jobs for Ohio families, fair trade for Ohio workers, and more Ohio factories forging more products stamped with that beautiful, beautiful phrase, ‘Made in the U.S.A.”

He criticized the Biden administration, claiming officials have worked to undo and erode the four years of work done by his White House.

“[Biden] puts America last; we put America first. It’s very simple,” Trump said. “Under our administration, America was respected again. We were respected by other countries.”

Trump also took direct aim at Gonzalez.

“He’s a sellout, a fake Republican and a disgrace to your state,” Trump said of Gonzalez. “And he’s not the candidate that you want representing the Republican Party.”

The Rocky River congressman and Avon Lake native has  accused the former president of inciting the violence that spilled into the U.S. Capitol Building Jan. 6, as Congress voted to formalize President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election. Gonzalez was censured by the Ohio Republican Party’s State Central Committee for the vote, which the state GOP officials argued was politically motivated.

Miller worked as a Trump advisor and held a  fundraiser for his congressional campaign at Mar-a-Lago in March. The primary is widely seen as a test of Trump’s hold on the Republican Party in Ohio, a state he easily won in 2020.

Miller also spoke Saturday night, calling on voters to hold Gonzalez accountable for his impeachment vote.

“That is a betrayal he can never turn back from, and that he should have to answer to day after day after day,” Miller said. “In a single vote, he betrayed the Republican Party, our President, our values and most importantly, he betrayed the voters of his district.”

Emphasizing his alignment with the former president, Miller argued Gonzalez’s decisions in the House often did not support the Trump legislative agenda and have not reflected the needs of Ohioans.

“I will protect and prioritize American jobs,” Miller said. “I will fight for the same kind of trade deals that President Trump fought for, the same ones that the Biden Administration is trying to undo.”

Ohio 15th Congressional District candidate Mike Carey also spoke during the rally. Carey, who has been endorsed by Trump as well, is running to replace Rep. Steve Stivers, who vacated the 15th District seat to run the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Carey characterized himself as a political outsider, like the former president, and promised to vote for policies that would further the Trump administration’s agenda if he is elected.

“We all know that the issues facing this country are great, and we need to have leaders like President Trump,” Carey said. “President Trump did so much for America, and I am honored that in this race he endorsed me.”

Among other state and local Republican officials and candidates attending the event were U.S. Senate 2022 candidates Jane Timken, Bernie Moreno and Josh Mandel, as well as Lorain County commissioners David Moore and Michelle Hung.

“Like us, Donald Trump believes in public service, not self-service like these career politicians,” Moore said.

The event also included speeches from national voices like Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Ohio’s own Rep. Jim Jordan.

“The biggest concern I have is what has happened to our liberties over the past several years,” Jordan said in his speech ahead of Trump’s appearance, referring to restrictions put in place to prevent spread of the coronavirus. “Every single right we enjoy as Americans under the First Amendment has been attacked.”

Ahead of the event, the Ohio Democratic Party expressed concerns that Trump’s visit would only increase the state’s political divide and “the level of vitriol in the already nasty Republican Senate primary.” But after the rally, a statement from spokesman Matt Keyes was more forward-looking.

“While Republicans are focused on the divisions of the past, Ohio Democrats are focused on building back better in Ohio and continuing the progress we’ve made in our state under the leadership of President Biden and Ohio Democrats,” Keyes said. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and Democratic leadership, Ohioans are vaccinated, businesses are opening back up and families will be able to safely gather in person over the Fourth of July holiday. That’s a significant shift from one year ago today.”

Next, Trump heads to Sarasota, Fla., for a July 3 rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds.