Trump fans brave chill to hear ‘martyr’ speak before trial


Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. (Reuters pic)

SCHNECKSVILLE: Donald Trump’s mounting legal woes do not appear to be hurting him among his followers — and in some cases are simply making his partisans irate and more ardent in their support.

Gathered in the small Pennsylvania town of Schnecksville, his impassioned supporters said Saturday they believe Trump will come out of his criminal trial — which begins this week — stronger than ever.

Though Trump was not due to address the crowd until later in the evening, a crowd began to gather early Saturday morning.

American flags and ‘Trump 2024’ banners fluttered in a chilly wind and light rain in the town, located in the key swing state of Pennsylvania that Trump won in 2016 but lost to Joe Biden in 2020.

“They are crucifying Donald Trump. He’s being turned into a martyr. And the Democrats think they’re winning. All they’re doing is making us really, really angry,” says Edward Young, a 64-year-old from Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

Young, an actor who also works in finance, said that he once was a centrist casting ballots on the merits of each candidate. But the barrage of legal cases against Trump has changed everything for him.

Whether Trump is convicted won’t make any difference to Randy Thomas, 57, who also drove from New Jersey to attend the rally.

“It’s a bunch of hate from the Democrats. They’re scared of him,” Thomas told AFP.

Thomas says he’ll take to the streets if Trump is sentenced to prison.

“But it ain’t gonna happen, it’s not gonna happen.”

Another supporter, who gave his name only as Ted, came to the rally with his daughter, the first time they had been to a Trump event.

“It’s important to show support to him, but also to show that the justice system is corrupt and we see it and we’re not going to let anyone fool us about it,” says Ted, a corporate executive.

Hours before the rally, Trump used similar language on his Truth Social platform, attacking the judge who will oversee his trial in New York as “totally conflicted and corrupt.”

Trump faces accusations of falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up an alleged sexual encounter with porn star Stormy Daniels so as not to doom his 2016 election

Trump’s other criminal cases — centred on his alleged hoarding of top-secret documents in Florida after he left the White House and his involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election — all face multiple delays.

Thomas, repeating Trump’s incessant message, said the legal troubles arise from politics — and his enemies’ desire to keep him away from the White House.

“You know, he loves the country. he doesn’t need to do this job. He can live the rest of his life comfortable. He’s a rich man,” Thomas says.

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