Audio of the speech reviewed by The Post reveals that Trump at times went even further in going after his foes and revising electoral history, even lodging a suggestive attack involving former first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance.
Below are some key quotes from the speech.
Michelle Obama’s looks as a laugh line
McConnell wasn’t the only one Trump called an ingrate. That was also the verdict for another Republican who declined to toe Trump’s line on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and whom Trump has gone after before: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
But in prosecuting that grievance, Trump made a somewhat uncharacteristic comment about Michelle Obama — of whom he has often steered clear — while also using her husband’s middle name in a suggestive way.
“Oprah Winfrey camped out in Atlanta” in support of Kemp’s 2018 opponent Stacey Abrams, Trump claimed, wrongly saying that Winfrey was there for “months.”
Trump added: “Barack Hussein Obama and the very beautiful Michelle Obama were there for … ”
At this point, the audience laughed uproariously. Michelle Obama’s appearance has often served as a punchline in some portions of the conservative Internet.
“ … they were there for — forever,” Trump concluded.
Trump has a history of disparaging the appearances of women he doesn’t like. It was also an odd attack for another reason: Michelle Obama didn’t actually campaign for Abrams.
More revisionism on McConnell
Trump wrongly claimed that Kemp was dead in the water before his support, and he made a similar and even more strained case while attacking McConnell, to whom he returned repeatedly in his remarks.
“Mitch McConnell comes to see me,” Trump claimed. ” ‘I need your help, sir.’ ‘What do you need, Mitch?’ ‘I’m losing.’ And he was losing. Every poll — the fake news doesn’t talk about this — every poll said he was losing.”
This is not true. Even if you believe that McConnell pleaded with Trump to save him — which is a stretch based upon everything we know about the GOP Senate leader — virtually no polls showed him trailing in his reelection bid, much less every poll.
Trump went on to claim that McConnell had close races in the past “because he’s got zero personality. … He’s a stiff. … This guy never won anything by 20 points.”
McConnell in fact won in 1992 by a larger margin than his 20-point margin in 2020. McConnell’s office declined to comment.
Trump then turned to Chao, who resigned as transportation secretary in January, citing the storming of the Capitol — for which McConnell blamed Trump, though he declined to convict Trump at his impeachment trial. Trump mocked Chao by saying that it “was so painful for her. You know, she’s — I feel so sorry for her. She suffered so greatly. So I hired her at his request … and then what happens, this guy turns on me in the Senate.”
The Jan. 6 crowd
Trump will often oversell his crowds — his presidency began on that note — but even by those standards, his comments Saturday were amazing.
Trump claimed that the rally he addressed on Jan. 6 before the storming of the Capitol was the largest he had ever spoken to, despite estimates putting the crowd in the thousands.
“There was a rally for — however you want to define it — at the Capitol,” Trump said. “It was the largest crowd that I’d ever spoken to before. Some people say it was over a million people. It was tremendous.”
Rekindling ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers’ at the border
Speaking of ways in which Trump echoed the launch of his political career: He began his 2016 campaign by stating that rapists and murderers were coming across the southern border. And Saturday, with a border crisis emerging early on his successor’s watch, he rekindled that language.
“They’re not sending their best people,” Trump said. “You have murderers. You have rapists. You have drug dealers. You have people that they don’t want because that’s common sense, but that’s the way it is. Many of the people that are coming up are people that those countries don’t want.”
It was remarkably similar to the language Trump used in 2015.
A suggestive nod to 2024
While Trump has been coy about his plans to run in 2024 — which has put other Republicans’ plans in limbo — and didn’t say too much on that front Saturday, at one point he leaned into the idea.
Building upon his theme that the election was stolen from him, he said, “I ran twice and I won two elections, and unfortunately now I’m going to have to win a third.”