Trump rants about Biden and the FBI's "evil and demented persecution"
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania - Former President Donald Trump forcefully hit back at President Joe Biden on Saturday night, saying the Democrat's recent address in Philadelphia was "the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president."
"He's an enemy of the state," Trump told a roaring crowd of thousands. And he said Philadelphia was the right place for the speech, "because the city is being devastated under Democrat rule."
While the speech was billed as a rally to help Pennsylvania's top GOP candidates, Mehmet Oz for Senate, and state Senator Doug Mastriano for governor, Trump spent most of his speech airing his old personal grievances, and some new ones.
He briefly mentioned Oz and Mastriano, before immediately redirecting his anger towards Biden, and the recent FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home as they tried to recover classified documents Trump's legal team previously denied even existed at the estate.
He called it an "evil and demented persecution of you and me."
It was Trump's first public response to Biden's blistering condemnation Thursday, when Biden cast Trump and "MAGA Republicans" as a threat to democracy, pointing to Trump's attempts to overthrow the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, riot he inspired.
After a presidency marked by his own slash-and-burn style, personally insulting Democrats for their looks, calling them "sick" and "evil," pressuring law enforcement to prosecute his rivals and go easy on his friends, Trump on Saturday doubled down on such name-calling, casting Dems as vicious.
"The danger to democracy comes from the radical left, not from the right," he said. Trump then continued to lie about the 2020 election, calling it rigged despite that claim being refuted by law enforcement, and even his own aides.
Trump's talking points at Wilkes-Barre rally
While Trump nodded to the campaign arguments that Republicans hope will power their campaigns this fall, he was mostly focused on his own complaints.
Over the first hour of his talk, he mostly railed against his two impeachments, the Russia investigation, the 2020 election outcome, and Hillary Clinton – the Democrat he defeated six years ago.
He complained about electric cars and wind turbines, barely mentioning Oz or Mastriano through his first 80 minutes of speaking.
He condemned Senator Mitch McConnell twice before getting to Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate candidate, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
The 76-year-old even took the time to berate the FBI for allegedly trashing his son Barren Trump's room at Mar-a-Lago. If this is true, it could indicate that the FBI had reason to believe Trump was hiding classified documents – unlawfully – in his son's bedroom at the estate.
The event came as the two major candidates Trump has endorsed in Pennsylvania, Oz and Mastriano, have trailed their Democratic rivals over the summer.
Pennsylvania's races for Senate and governor are two of the country's marquee contests, and he could get credit for GOP wins – or blame if his picks cost the party winnable races.
Cover photo: Ed JONES / AFP