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Cheers, chants greet Trump in Tucson campaign stop
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Cheers, chants greet Trump in Tucson campaign stop

A sea of red, white and blue, “Make America Great Again” signs and American flags filled the Tucson Jet Center as thousands of people gathered outside near the airport on a sunny Monday afternoon to welcome President Trump to Tucson.

As in other rallies, Trump took the stage amid chants of “USA! USA!”

Supporters had waited hours for Trump to make his hourlong campaign stop, arriving at the center hours before the gates opened at noon. Trump flew into Tucson after a similar campaign rally in Prescott earlier in the day.

He thanked the crowd here after a chant of “We love you” swept across the gathering of supporters. “You know … Ronald Reagan never had that chant. You’re going to make me cry. I don’t want to cry. I’ll cry, and it’ll ruin my image, and then you won’t love me anymore,” he said, chuckling.

Trump’s speech here touched on everything from criticism of his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, to boosting the candidacy of Republican Martha McSally, who is hoping to keep a seat in the Senate against Democrat Mark Kelly, to lowering drug prices, to praising the border wall, to talking about the pandemic.

“Biden will surrender your future to the virus and will surrender your country to the socialist left,” Trump told the Tucson crowd.

“The Democratic Party’s war on law enforcement is despicable. Unlike Joe Biden, I will always support the heroes of law enforcement.”

He went on to call Biden corrupt and labeled his family “a criminal enterprise.”

Trump also told the Tucson crowd, “You aren’t paying a penny” for the border wall.

“It’s all compliments of the federal government,” he said.

The Trump administration plans to spend $15 billion to build hundreds of miles of 30-foot-tall wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes filling gaps in the wall already standing in Arizona, the Star reported Sunday.

Most of the 190 miles of wall built so far in Arizona replace head-high vehicle barriers or fencing that stands 10 feet to 18 feet tall. When construction is completed, Arizona will have more than 230 miles of wall, at a cost of roughly $4.5 billion, the Star reported.

“We have to keep America, America”

Trump’s visit to Arizona could prove crucial to his campaign. The state has a long history of voting Republican in presidential elections, allowing Trump to win Arizona by 3.5 percentage points in 2016. However, after he lost Pima County by about 57,000 local votes in last election, the Tucson area continues to be a challenge for him.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, during the Tucson rally, credited Trump policies for Arizona’s “booming” economy, saying that home values in the state are “rising faster than anywhere in the country.” He called for the reelection of Trump and the election of McSally. She did not get a turn at the mic during the Tucson stop.

President Trump also promoted his efforts to combat rising drug prices.

Trump told supporters that for years people complained about rising drug prices, but nobody did anything until he was in the White House.

He predicted that drug prices are going to be dropping “like a lot.”

Trump has taken actions to reduce patient costs for some drugs, such as insulin, but the steps have been less ambitious than those in a bill from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the House passed last year, according to The Associated Press.

Riding through the crowd on a motorized elephant sequined in red, white and blue, Shane Dahlen, a Tucson entrepreneur, said before the president arrived that he hopes his fellow Pima County residents will support Trump into another term.

“We have to keep America, America and not lose who we are as a country and nation,” he said. “Do not listen to the media. Do your research, find the facts and verify your information.”

For local college student and immigrant Haley Navarette, Trump is the best presidential candidate when it comes to “opportunity and freedom.” Navarette, who wore a “Latinos for Trump” shirt, said she immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was 2 years old.

“We are here to support our president. I came here from Honduras, and we did it legally. We did it the right way,” she said. “I got myself an education in public policy. I’m working on my master’s now in emergency management. There’s definitely opportunity in this country; you just have to do it the right way. This is why we’re here, to show support for our president, who believes in that.”

“I look fine, don’t I?”

In Prescott earlier in the day, Trump deployed a new attack line against Biden, saying the Democratic presidential nominee “wants to listen to Dr. Fauci.” Biden says that’s correct, The Associated Press reported.

The president’s remarks in Prescott touched on everything from the economy to health care, and he also noted that the parents of Arizona’s Kayla Mueller, the aid worker who was kidnapped and killed in Syria in 2015, were in the crowd, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez of The Arizona Republic reported.

Trump went on to downplay the coronavirus.

“If you have it, you have it, you get better,” he told the Prescott crowd. Nearly 220,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. There have been at least 5,830 virus-related deaths in Arizona.

In Tucson, Trump said things will get back to normal.

“Vaccines are coming,” he said. “And I look fine, don’t I?”

“Our early and aggressive action saved millions of lives,” Trump said in Tucson. “People are pandemic’d out, which is why it’s so great what your governor has done, keeping your state open.”

“And now I’m immune. I can jump into this audience and kiss every man and women I want.”

“Get her elected, will you?”

He encouraged the crowd in Prescott to vote for McSally, who lost her first Senate run in 2018 and delivered Democrats their first senator in 30 years.

And he criticized McSally’s Democratic opponent, noting Kelly’s calls for stricter gun policies, telling the crowd Kelly would take away their Second Amendment rights. Kelly — a military veteran, former astronaut, son of two police officers and a gun owner — has said he does not want to undo the Second Amendment.

Kelly, and his wife, former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, co-founded a gun-safety group after she survived a mass shooting in Tucson in January 2011.

“Great pilot,” Trump said of McSally, who accompanied the president. “Get her elected, will you?”

Trump also praised Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, who he said could have been a U.S. senator representing Arizona, Sanchez, of The Republic, reported. In 2018, Ward lost a three-way GOP primary election to McSally in a race that also pitted her against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In 2016, Ward lost the 2016 Republican primary election to then-Sen. John McCain. The senator died in office during his sixth Senate term. McSally, appointed by Ducey, now holds the seat he once held and is running Nov. 3 in a special election to fill the seat until January 2023. The winner of the special election could be sworn in as early as Nov. 30.

“Fauci’s a disaster”

Earlier in the day, Trump came out swinging Monday against Dr. Anthony Fauci, The Associated Press reported.

Trump told supporters that he believes he will win another term, though allowing that he didn’t have that same sense of confidence two weeks ago when he was hospitalized with the virus. Seeking to shore up the morale of his staff, Trump blasted his government’s own scientific experts as too negative, even as his handling of the pandemic remains a central issue to voters.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said of the government’s top infectious-disease expert. “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster.”

The doctor is both respected and popular, and Trump’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.

Fauci, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, said he was not surprised that Trump contracted the virus after he held large events with few face coverings. Fauci also objected to the president’s campaign using his words in a campaign ad, the AP reported.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci said of the president.

Biden was off the trail Monday, but his campaign said in a statement:

“Trump’s closing message in the final days of the 2020 race is to publicly mock Joe Biden for trusting science and to call Dr. Fauci, the leading public health official on COVID-19, a ‘disaster’ and other public health officials ‘idiots.’”

“Trump is mocking Biden for listening to science. Science. The best tool we have to keep Americans safe, while Trump’s reckless and negligent leadership threatens to put more lives at risk.”

The Arizona Republic and The Associated Press contributed to the story. Contact reporter Jasmine Demers at jdemers@tucson.com

On Twitter: @JasmineADemers


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