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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In Las Vegas, Trump appeals to local workers and avoids talk of conviction



Former president Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, on Sunday, June 9, 2024. Trump said little on Sunday about his recent conviction in his criminal trial in Manhattan, but he lamented the four times he was indicted last year as a “disgrace.” (Jenna Schoenefeld/The New York Times)

By Michael Gold


Former President Donald Trump stood in blazing heat in a Las Vegas park Sunday and directly appealed to working-class voters by promising to eliminate taxes on tips for hospitality workers.


But beyond that proposal, little at Trump’s campaign rally suggested that his new status as a felon had changed his message. And when Trump’s teleprompter apparently stopped working, his speech — which his campaign advisers had billed as focused on issues of local concern to Nevada voters — devolved into familiar stories and riffs.


“I got no teleprompters, and I haven’t from the beginning,” Trump said after speaking for roughly 15 minutes, though his speech included excerpts from prepared remarks that his campaign had provided to reporters. “That probably means we’ll make a better speech now.”


Trump repeatedly voiced his frustration with the lack of a teleprompter, even though he has often boasted of his ability to give long speeches without one.


His remarks, which lasted roughly an hour, felt unfocused as he cycled through well-worn territory, railing against electric vehicles, immigration, the four criminal cases brought against him and President Joe Biden’s physical and mental condition.


Once again, Trump broadly depicted migrants crossing the border illegally as violent criminals or mentally ill people, and then recited “The Snake,” a standby poem he has used since 2016 to expound on the threat he believes immigrants lacking permanent legal status pose to the country.


He continued to revive his unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election. And he baselessly insisted Democrats would try to cheat in November, sowing doubt about the general election months before a single vote has been cast.


“Don’t let them cheat,” he told the crowd in Nevada. “You watch that vote and watch it all the way.”


Trump again praised the mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, calling them “J6 warriors,” suggesting they had legitimate reasons to try to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election and saying that they had somehow been “set up” that day.


“They were warriors, but they’re really, more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened,” Trump said. “All they were doing were protesting a rigged election.”


Trump said next to nothing about his recent conviction on 34 felony charges in New York, but he lamented the four times he was indicted last year as a “disgrace.” Still, a number of people at the rally wore shirts reading “I’m voting for the convicted felon.”


Much as he did at a town-hall-style forum last week in Phoenix, Trump spoke at length about immigration, saying that Biden’s border policies constituted an “all-out war” on Black and Hispanic Americans.


Trump again criticized Biden’s recent executive order meant to deter illegal crossings at the U.S. border with Mexico, calling it “weak,” “ineffective” and garbage, though he used an expletive.


In response, the crowd began chanting the expletive, as his supporters did in Arizona when he used the same description. “This word seems to be catching on a little bit,” Trump said approvingly. (When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., spoke before Trump took the stage, her remarks prompted three identical chants.)


At the rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, the Trump campaign formally announced its Latino outreach effort, known as Latino Americans for Trump, and a number of Hispanic Americans spoke before Trump did.


Nevada has a large Hispanic population, and polls show that Trump’s support among the state’s working-class and Latino voters is increasing. His campaign is trying to capitalize on dissatisfaction among those groups with Biden’s handling of the economy.


Linda Fornos, a Las Vegas resident who came to the United States from Nicaragua, said that she voted for Biden in 2020 but that she was disappointed with his administration. “For many years, I believed in the promises of the Democrats for more opportunities for the Latino community,” she said.


Trump’s pledge to eliminate taxes on tips for restaurant and hospitality workers was a direct appeal to that group, a significant force in the Las Vegas area. “When I get into office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips,” he said.


After the rally, the Culinary Workers Union, a key part of the Democratic coalition in the state, attacked Trump’s proposal as hollow.


“Relief is definitely needed for tip earners, but Nevada workers are smart enough to know the difference between real solutions and wild campaign promises from a convicted felon,” Ted Pappageorge, the secretary-treasurer of the union, which has 60,000 members, said in a statement.


Trump’s rally in Nevada, a key battleground state, concluded a multiple-day Western swing that started Thursday with a forum in Phoenix hosted by the conservative group Turning Point Action.


As record-high temperatures hit Phoenix, at least 11 people at that indoor event were taken to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. The Trump campaign took steps to avoid similar issues in Las Vegas, where the heat was less severe but where the rally was held outside. At least six people on Sunday were taken from the event to the hospital, according to the Clark County Fire Department.


After his speech in Phoenix, Trump attended three fundraisers in California and one in Las Vegas. Chris LaCivita, one of Trump’s two campaign managers, said the campaign had raised about $27.5 million across the four events, a figure that cannot be independently verified until campaign filings are made public in the coming months.

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