Donald Trump has returned to the political arena to call on Republicans to nominate only candidates loyal to him for election to Congress next year.
In a “rambling” 90-minute speech at his first rally “since being prised from the White House in January”, the former US leader “reiterated his groundless allegation” that the 2020 election was “stolen from him” in what he described as “the crime of the century”, says The Times. And he “hinted that he would make a third presidential run” in 2024, the paper adds.
“Our movement is far from over,” Trump told the North Carolina Republican Party’s convention. “In fact, it is just getting started.”
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In a bid to “galvanise supporters ahead of next year's elections for the Senate and House of Representatives”, Trump “hailed his administration’s achievements” and launched “typically colourful attacks on opponents foreign and domestic”, says The Telegraph.
The former president attacked Dr Anthony Fauci’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing the White House’s most senior scientific adviser as “not a great doctor but a great promoter”.
“He’s been wrong on almost every issue and he was wrong on Wuhan and the lab also,” Trump added, in a nod to theories that the coronavirus came from a research facility in the Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.
“We demand reparations from the Communist Party of China,” said Trump, who told the Republican convention that the Asian superpower should pay $10tr (£7tr) in “reparations”.
He also called for the US to impose 100% tariffs on Chinese goods and urged other countries to repudiate their debts to Beijing as a “down payment” for the economic disruption caused by the pandemic.
Predictably, Trump blasted Joe Biden too, claiming that the Democrat is leading “the most radical left-wing administration in history”.
“All Joe Biden had to do was sit back and do nothing - it was taking off like a rocket ship nobody's ever seen,” Trump said. “Instead, the economy is going to hell and inflation is going to cause a catastrophe in the near future.”
The speech marked Trump's first political appearance outside his home state of Florida since leaving the White House, and in contrast to “the mega-rallies he hosted during his presidency”, was attended by only about 1,200 people, The Telegraph reports.
But despite being “a diminished public figure after losing office and being blocked by both Twitter and Facebook”, says The Times, Trump “retains a grip on Republican politics” and is the “front runner for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024 in every survey”.
All the same, while the convention crowd applauded the ex-president’s inflammatory comments, internet chat focused on footage from the event which appeared to show that Trump's trousers were “oddly wrinkled around the front thighs, with no visible fly”, says the Daily Mail.
Some critics claimed that he had “put his pants on backwards”, while others suggested that the trousers “might be elastic-waisted pull-ups with no button or front zipper”, the paper reports.
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