Waco, Texas: Former President Donald Trump launched his 2024 presidential campaign with a rally in Waco, Texas.
During the event, he criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for the “weaponization” of the justice system while a potential indictment by a Manhattan grand jury loomed over him.
In his speech, Trump claimed he and his supporters had been fighting against “corrupt, rotten, sinister forces” for seven years.
He compared the current administration’s actions to those of Stalinist Russia and accused the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, of prosecutorial misconduct in his efforts to indict Trump.
At the rally, around 15,000 people attended, Trump dismissed allegations of a past encounter with adult film star Stormy Daniels and praised his wife, Melania Trump.
He also urged his supporters to return him to the White House, promising to make America a free nation again.
The event featured a performance by rocker Ted Nugent, who played a rendition of the national anthem on electric guitar.
Trump also played a recording of the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung by jailed January 6 rioters.
During his speech, Trump warned that the nation faced a choice between surrendering to “demonic forces” or defeating them.
He called on his supporters to help him return to the White House and fight against the “deep state.”
Despite Trump’s criticism of Biden, many top Texas Republicans, including Governor Greg Abbott and Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, did not attend the rally.
Instead, Trump was supported by loyalists such as Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Trump spent much of the day posting on Truth Social, boasting about the crowd size in Texas, attacking the Manhattan D.A.‘s investigation, and mocking President Biden for his gaffes.
He also took a jab at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential GOP rival, by sharing a manipulated photo combining DeSantis‘s face with Senator Mitt Romney‘s hairstyle.
The rally took place 15 miles away from the site of the 1993 Mount Carmel Center tragedy, where 76 Branch Davidian cult members died after a 51-day FBI siege.
The event, occurring just three weeks before the 30th anniversary of the disaster, sparked anti-government sentiment and contributed to the rise of the modern-day militia movement.
However, Trump dismissed criticism that his choice of rally location would incite further unrest.