GASTONIA, N.C. (CN) — President Donald Trump held a Wednesday night rally in battleground state North Carolina in an effort to mobilize Republican voters the night before his final debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Thousands of supporters lined up hours in advance to catch Trump’s remarks during his latest “Make America Great Again” rally outside the Gastonia Municipal Airport on Wednesday night.
There, Trump bashed Democrats and touted his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in a speech riddled with sporadic topic changes.
“This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery or a Biden steep-depression,” Trump told the large crowd during his seventh appearance in the Tarheel State since the Republican National Convention in late August.
With the Nov. 3 election less than two weeks away, the president continued to paint a nightmarish picture of the future if Biden is elected.
While the president said Biden would raise taxes, he did not mention that his rival’s proposed plan would only raise taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 a year.
During many recent campaign events, including this one, Trump has worked to persuade audiences that an America run by Biden would end in utter disaster — providing strong language, but little or no evidence.
Trump claimed Wednesday that “If Biden wins, the flag-burning demonstrators in the street will be running your federal government. They will re-educate your children and be letting rioters and MS-13 killers roam free without masks.”
He attacked media outlets CNN and MSNBC, saying that the television networks were scaring people about the pandemic.
“All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. That’s all they put on, because they want to scare the hell out of everyone,” he said.
Gastonia, a city on the outskirts of Charlotte, has a population of more than 77,000. It is the seat of Gaston County, which voted for Trump 64% compared to the 32% garnered by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
North Carolina, a major swing state with 15 electoral votes, has a critical role to play in deciding which party takes control of Congress and who ends up in the Oval Office.
Polls show Biden has a narrow lead over Trump in the state, and both campaigns are doubling down as the election nears.
A record number of early voters have turned out to the polls in North Carolina with about 2 million residents having already cast their ballots, according data from the State Board of Elections.
Prior to the event on Wednesday, organizers said anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 people were expected to attend.
Trump slammed nearly everyone during the rally, including the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden, “tech giants,” the news media and “the really stupid dumb people, the never-Trumpers.”
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, former President Barack Obama had just wrapped up a pro-Biden speech during which he slammed Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, among other things.
“I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision or continue my policies, but I did hope for the sake of the country, that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously,” Obama said during his first campaign appearance in 2020. “But it hasn’t happened. He hasn’t showed any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends.”
Trump on Wednesday night expressed a very different depiction of his actions, telling North Carolinians that America has seen the “fastest recovery” of any country.
More than 222,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the U.S. since the pandemic first hit, and about 8.35 million have tested positive for the virus in less than a year.
North Carolina has suffered more than 4,000 of those Covid-19 deaths as of Wednesday.
Over the last seven days, Gaston County reported 598 new cases and many, including Biden’s campaign, expressed concern that the rally could act as a superspreader event.
Trump got local late into the rally, introducing North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who was met with supportive chants of “Run Forest, Run.”
Forest, a former businessman and ardent supporter of Trump, is vying to unseat North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper in November.
“We have a couple things in common,” Forest said, comparing himself with Trump.
“Their job is to destroy, instead of build up,” the gubernatorial candidate said of both his and Trump’s Democratic rivals before vowing to work with Trump to “Make America Great Again.”
Both Forest and the president went after Cooper, a name met with jeers at the Republican-packed rally, for implementing coronavirus-related restrictions in the state.
Early voting in the state began last week.