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Trump loyalists proud to support ‘felon’ at Las Vegas rally

By AFP - Jun 10,2024 - Last updated at Jun 10,2024

Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday (AFP photo)

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of Donald Trump supporters rallied in baking heat on Sunday to cheer on the Republican presidential candidate in Nevada, a key battleground state for the US election in November.

“It’s not too hot out here, right?” the 77-year-old told a cheering crowd, adding, “if you start going down, we have people. They’ll pick you up right away. They’ll throw water”.

The rally in Las Vegas’s Sunset Park will gauge the impact of Trump being found guilty in May of falsifying business records to avoid an alleged sexual encounter with a porn star hindering his 2016 presidential campaign.

But for his most loyal followers, the ruling only strengthened Trump’s position against President Joe Biden.

“I don’t care about what happened to him in the trial... it doesn’t change my mind about him at all,” Lindsay Elliott, who came to the event with her family, told AFP.

“I think it’s going to help him. I think that the American people are done with this crap,” the 40-year-old added.

Her daughter Mackenzie, 19, agreed: “It sucks what happened but I think it’s just going to make him stronger and make voters more encouraged to vote [for him].”

At 10:00 am (17:00 GMT), as the thermometer already read 34ºC, people wearing the traditional red of the Republican Party were already queueing to hear Trump speak at midday, when the mercury soared to triple digits.

Vendors sold t-shirts reading “I’m voting for the convicted felon” — alluding to Trump’s verdict — along the mile-long line.

The Vegas event was the first major outdoor campaign rally since Trump’s conviction — and it was the first attended by Shay Chan, 25, who found himself motivated by the New York court ruling.

“It’s very disheartening to see America is turning in this direction,” Chan told AFP. “If it can happen to Trump, it can happen to anyone else, right?”

Others came to show their support even if they could not vote, such as Karen Hall — a Chilean who lives in the United States but is not a citizen. She said illegal migration is an important issue for her.

“I’m an immigrant and I had to wait years to get my visa and arrive legally, and it bothers me that so many immigrants arrive illegally and pass through like it’s nothing. That bothers me a lot, that’s why I support president Trump,” she said.

Beth Matthews, wearing a Trump t-shirt, said she was only buoyed by his criminal conviction.

“I contributed right away to the campaign as soon as they came out” with verdict, she said, adding she was happy with “a lot of people” attending Sunday’s rally.

 

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