But over the course of the next hour and a half, he made clear that the only apparent strategy he has for vanquishing the country’s supposed “demons” is relentlessly complaining about his own troubles.
The rally—an attempt to re-energize his supporters, and his own campaign operation after months of a sleepy campaign in which he hunkered down at his Mar-a-Lago estate and had dinner with a white nationalist, among other things—came as Trump himself stoked fears of his own imminent arrest.
Now facing the possibility of being indicted by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg—as early as this coming week—over the alleged misreporting of a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of his 2016 campaign, his 2024 campaign would appear to be teetering dangerously close to the edge.
But despite the Daniels case looming large, along with a litany of other ongoing investigations, the former president attempted to sound fearless.
“2024 is the final battle. That’s going to be the big one,” Trump proudly declared. “You put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation again.”
While at times riffing off his prepared remarks, one personal problem continually found sunlight: A potential indictment being handed down by Bragg’s office, which he referred to as “something straight out of the Stalinist Russia horror show.”
“In my case, every piece of my personal life, financial life, business life, and public life has been turned upside down and dissected like no one in the history of our country,” Trump fumed at the start of the rally. “It probably makes me the most innocent man in the history of our country,” he later added.
Last week, the former president set off a firestorm after sending out a series of all capitalized posts on his social media site, Truth Social, suggesting his arrest was just hours away last Tuesday. But, notably, the day came and went, and an indictment from Bragg’s office has yet to come.
“From the beginning, it’s been one witch hunt and phony investigation after another,” Trump continued while belaboring personal grievances such as what he argued is “prosecutorial misconduct” unfairly targeting himself.
While tossing red meat to MAGA fanatics in the audience, there was one topic Trump didn’t address: The location of the rally. Nearly 30 years ago, a nearly two-month deadly standoff in Waco left painful memories for the town after the religious-cult Branch Davidians had a standoff with federal agents, leaving 4 officers and 82 Davidians dead.
Sharing beliefs with Christians and convictions about the world ending, Branch Davidians at their Waco compound stockpiled weapons, which would be used to carry out the deadly fire-fight—where they expressed similar anti-government sentiment to that seen on Jan 6.
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung argued in a statement to The Daily Beast that the location was chosen due to it being “centrally located and close to all four of Texas’ biggest metropolitan areas.” “Anyone who makes that absurd comparison obviously has their own delusional agenda,” he added.
Investigation talk—which earned less applause from the crowd than culture war complaints—was heavy. Trump also talked about the politics of politics.
The former president took aim at Ron DeSantis—who he referred to as “Ron DeSanctimonious”—only to tout his own increasingly growing margins against the Florida governor in 2024 presidential polling.
DeSantis, who gained popularity after implementing lax coronavirus guidelines in the Sunshine State, has since seen his poll numbers soften. Moreover, as The Daily Beast reported, his book tour has begun to show public cracks under increased attacks from the Trump camp and national media scrutiny.
Then Trump praised those he views as loyalists—who haven’t left his side. Chief among them was firebrand MAGA-loving Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was in the audience.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene. I don’t want to insult you by saying this, Marjorie, but on the plane, I said, ‘People don’t realize how brilliant she is,’” Trump said—going on to praise her visits to the D.C. jail where Jan. 6 defendants remain behind bars.
“Would you like to run for the Senate?” Trump then asked in Greene’s direction. “I would fight like hell for you.”
Trump’s suggestion might surprise those around Greene, as The Daily Beast first reported that the Georgia lawmaker had made her way onto a 2024 Trump vice presidential shortlist.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to note the Waco standoff’s correct death toll.