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Analysis: Trump griped about trial but did not use holiday to hit multiple swing states

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has complained for weeks that he cannot hit the campaign trail because he is stuck in a Manhattan courtroom. But he opted against using a holiday weekend break in the criminal hush money trial to visit multiple battleground states.

“I’d like to be out campaigning right now,” Trump told reporters outside the New York courtroom on May 21, before a Memorial Day weekend break. “But again, I’m gonna have to be in here almost five weeks in court. They have no case. There’s no crime.”

On May 9, Trump groused before the court gaveled in that day that he would have preferred to be in Georgia, Florida or Ohio talking to voters rather than in a courtroom he has called an “icebox.”

But he did not use the lengthy holiday weekend break to visit any of those states. Instead, on Thursday evening, he held a rally in the city’s Bronx borough — even though he lost Bronx County to now-President Joe Biden in 2020, 83.5 percent to 15.9 percent.

Though Trump and his team had to factor in the possibility the court could have met Thursday, he recently boasted that he could provide his own transportation to debates with Biden. He owns a Boeing 757 aircraft, which he used to hold a flyover before Sunday’s Coca Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, a state Trump won by less than 2 points but Biden’s team hopes to make competitive this year.

The Manhattan courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan has typically adjourned for the day around 4:30 p.m. That means it was not inconceivable, even if the trial had been in session Thursday, that Trump could have gotten to a rally in the Tar Heel State or Pennsylvania, a sure-fire swing state that is a short flight from any New York City area airport.

 

On Saturday, rather than heading to a swing state, Trump opted to address the Libertarian National Convention in Washington. But in a surreal scene, a politician who typically only addresses fans sporting “Make America Great Again” hats and t-shirts was booed, jeered and heckled.

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, said in an email that “holding rallies in places like New York and New Jersey seems pointless. Trump is not going to win either of those states.”

Still, he said there was a strategic point to both events.

“I do think it’s fair to say that both rallies did generate a fair amount of earned media coverage, although that would be the case for swing state rallies, too,” Kondik said. “The appearance at the Libertarian convention seemed like something of a bust, although it was also in the middle of a long holiday weekend and probably didn’t get much attention anyway.”

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