Trump is gathering at Temple in North Philadelphia, trying to woo voters in Pennsylvania’s bluest city

Former President Donald Trump stood in the heart of North Philadelphia on Saturday and described the period as a “crazy time” in the city, claiming violent crime was up and vowing to send “federal resources” if elected.

In an 85-minute speech that included repeated appeals to Latino and Black voters, he sharply criticized his rivals as “despicable,” proposed the creation of a migrant fighting league, falsely claimed to have won Philadelphia in the previous election and promised to restore the country’s security.

“The people of our country are looking for hope, whether they are white, brown, black or anything else. They are looking for hope,” Trump said. “They are tired of being called stupid all over the world.”

Trump’s rally at Temple University’s Liacouras Center was the first time the former president held one of his signature events in Philadelphia, a city of 1.6 million where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1. Four years ago, the former president he received just 5% of the vote in precincts within a half-mile of Temple’s campus.

The event clearly demonstrated the effort the Republican Party candidate is making to win over voters – especially people of color – from traditionally Democratic strongholds. He recently gathered in Las Vegas and the South Bronx, New York. At Saturday’s rally, the Trump campaign’s second in Philadelphia this month, signs read: “Philadelphia is Trump country.”

“I thought, Philly? Is he sure?” said Tom Mathena, 47, a Trump supporter and construction worker from Wilmington. “It was a bold move.”

Trump has a somewhat complicated relationship with the city, whose officials four years ago released a tabulation of the votes that effectively delivered the White House to President Joe Biden.

Some Philadelphians are offended that Trump canceled the Eagles’ visit to the White House after the 2018 Super Bowl, while others remember that he famously said during the debate, “Bad things are happening in Philadelphia.” The extraordinary press conference of his 2020 Four Seasons Total Landscaping campaign is an enduring punchline.

” READ MORE: Why Donald Trump is coming to North Philadelphia for his first-ever rally in the city

None of this was obvious among his supporters, who lined Tony & Nick’s in South Philadelphia on Saturday, waving flags as Trump stopped for cheesecake on the way to his rally.

Miles north, thousands more arrived at the arena after waiting outside in temperatures approaching 100 degrees. They wore red T-shirts with the words “No More Bullshit…” and held signs with a photo of the former president that read, “Never Give Up.”

The Liacouras Center, which has a capacity of about 10,000 people, did not open the upper level to participants – the lower bowl and floor were full. The crowd was overwhelmingly white, but there was a larger concentration of Black supporters in the section behind where Trump was standing, making those supporters visible on the live television broadcast.

“This is President Trump saying, ‘I will create opportunity for all, not just one, but all,’” said James Earl Jones, a Black business owner in Philadelphia who spoke at the rally. “And that’s exactly what we need.”

Biden is still expected to win Philadelphia easily. But even a small shift in vote totals could give Trump Pennsylvania, a key battleground where he and Biden are neck and neck in voting, and a state that could tilt the Electoral College.

“We win Pennsylvania,” Trump said, “we win the presidency.”

During a separate news conference on Saturday, Biden campaign surrogates predicted that Philadelphians would not support Trump in significant numbers.

State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat whom district includes Temple, said Trump stoked the “birtherism” conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama and then “spent his entire presidency trying to … undermine the security that Black working families relied on.”

“It’s about Donald Trump thumbing his nose at the black and brown community and how he believes that black people are somehow stupid,” Kenyatta said, “as if we don’t remember his history.”

But Bonnie Harmon, a Trump supporter who lives in Philadelphia and wears a T-shirt that says “Blacks for Trump 2020,” said people who are enthused by Trump’s past comments should move on.

“We need to look at what is in his heart right now in real time,” she said.

Trump proposes UFC fight league for migrants

The rally took place a few days before the first presidential debate of the campaign, which took place on Thursday. It was also Trump’s first major event in Pennsylvania since he was found guilty last month of 34 counts of falsifying business records, becoming the first former president and major party presidential candidate to be convicted of a crime.

Trump called the New York trial a “sham,” and people who attended the rally expressed their unfazedness.

“It was just a way to take him out of character,” said Carla Richardson, 31, a mental health professional in Southwest Philadelphia. “And this was supposed to be a move to make you look bad and make you look like a criminal.”

Much of Trump’s speech focused on issues he emphasized during the campaign, namely inflation and immigration. He detailed recent crimes allegedly committed by migrants and promised to launch “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.”

“Joe Biden’s wave of confusion, death and terror will begin to subside the moment I take the oath of office,” Trump said.

He later proposed an Ultimate Fighting Championship-style fight between migrants, saying that “it’s the tough cookies that are coming to our country.”

Matthew Contreras, a Trump supporter from New York, said immigration is a key reason he supports the former president.

“Illegal immigrants are a problem for us citizens, we must secure our borders and support legal immigration,” he said. He added: “[Trump] offers Latinos the chance to be whoever they want.”

Trump also criticized his rivals. He has repeatedly questioned Biden’s mental competency, described U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (R-Pa.) as “stiff” and sharply criticized progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner, calling him a “vile Marxist.”

“Krasner has the blood of countless men, women and children on his hands,” Trump said, “including thousands of African American citizens because he refuses to prosecute people.”

In response, Krasner said, as if he were talking to Trump, “When did you start caring about Black and brown lives?”

“He should come and have a serious debate with me about this,” Krasner added, “instead of his usual cowardly car ride where he shouts words he doesn’t even understand.”

Trump rallies claim he “never fails” while protesters beat him

Trump supporters said they didn’t care about the candidate’s opinions.

“Everyone knows he’s not posh,” said Kristopher Liu, a Philadelphia native who lives in Texas. “That’s who he is. That’s what he says. But look what he did for the country.”

Cherry Hill’s Debbie Segrest was lively as she emerged from the Liacouras Center wearing red, white and blue. He rarely misses a local Trump rally.

“He never disappoints,” Segrest said. But while she was delighted with Trump’s remarks, Segrest said his decision to hold the event in Philadelphia created a different energy than a recent rally in Wildwood, New Jersey

“It wasn’t that big,” she said. “In Wildwood, it was on the streets. Flags, everything.

Outside the arena, where dozens of Biden supporters taunted the crowd with chants of “lock him up,” tensions didn’t escalate much except for a few choice words and a few flying fingers. Philadelphia police officers used metal barricades to separate crowds of protesters from Trump supporters.

Phillip Jefferson, a Philadelphia resident and city employee, said the former president is “desperate.”

“He knows Philadelphia is the key to Pennsylvania,” Jefferson said. He added that the former president is clearly trying to court black voters like himself, but the prospect confuses him. “From what I’ve seen, none of his programs benefit people of color.”

Cosmo Gamble, another protester, added: “This is a Democrat town. He doesn’t belong here.

Staff writers Rob Tornoe, Aseem Shukla, Michelle Myers and Hannah Nguyen contributed to this article.

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