PHOENIX ― President Donald Trump kicked off a three-day string of rallies with a typically rambling, typically falsehood-strewn speech on Wednesday in a traditionally Republican state that he barely won four years ago.
“We’ve done more than any administration in history,” he told supporters during his 82-minute address, in which he veered from boasting of his accomplishments to insulting the Democratic candidates who were in the midst of a primary debate a few hundred miles north in Las Vegas. “Millions of registered Democrat voters are leaving their party to join our Republican Party.”
While Trump often makes false assertions in official speeches, posts online, and off-the-cuff remarks to the media, his campaign rallies tend to deliver the largest number of falsehoods per unit of time, and Wednesday’s event did not disappoint.
Trump claimed he had created the strongest economy ever — even though former President Barack Obama oversaw the creation of 1.5 million more jobs in his last three years as president than Trump has in his first three.
He claimed African American and Latino unemployment are at all-time lows — despite the fact that those rates have been creeping upward for the past several months.
He claimed to have cut taxes “by a record amount” — even though former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both signed larger tax cut bills.
On health care, Trump said, “We’re protecting people with preexisting conditions and we always will” — ignoring the fact that his administration is backing a lawsuit that would eliminate that protection and that he previously pushed a bill to repeal it.
He claimed to have passed the Veterans Choice Act — although Obama signed that legislation into law years before Trump took office.
He even claimed to have 25,000 attendees at his rally — though the arena in which it was held, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, only holds 15,000.
Trump is renowned for the sheer volume of his falsehoods, as well as his general willingness to lie about topics large and small. A number of Trump’s fans, though, disputed that he ever says anything false at all.
David Bachman, who runs a group that aims to put more Christians in elected office, said it was Trump’s critics and the news media who are dishonest, not the president. “I love what Trump has done for this country,” said Bachman, who is 70 and retired from his real estate and insurance businesses.
Leo Cote, an 18-year-old construction worker from Tucson who said he will cast his first presidential ballot for Trump this November, said Trump is “only a bit” dishonest. “All politicians lie,” Cote said. “The whole political system is corrupt.”
One woman wearing a Trump T-shirt and a “Women for Trump” button got so angry when HuffPost pointed out two of Trump’s repeated falsehoods that she refused to participate in the interview further. “This is why I hate the media,” she said before walking away.
Trump won Arizona in 2016, but by a significantly smaller margin than previous Republican nominees, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton by just 3.5 percentage points. In contrast, now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) beat Obama by 9 points in 2012, and the late Sen. John McCain won his home state by the same amount in 2008.
Democrats’ ability to win the Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 midterm election increased their optimism that they can defeat Trump this November and win the state’s 11 electoral votes.
Trump is in the middle of a rare multi-day trip, and spent Tuesday and much of Wednesday in California raising money for his reelection campaign before coming to Phoenix. He’ll hold campaign rallies in Colorado Springs on Thursday and Las Vegas on Friday before returning to the White House.