Wednesday, June 19, 2024

'I love Milwaukee': Takeaways from Donald Trump's Wisconsin campaign rally

From JSOnline:

Molly BeckRachel HaleHope Karnopp
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

RACINE – "I love Milwaukee."

That's how Donald Trump began a nearly 90-minute long speech in Racine just as news outlets reported the former president had planned to stay in Chicago during the Republican National Convention instead of the Wisconsin host city and a week after Trump stunned the Milwaukee community by calling the state's largest city "horrible" in comments made to U.S. House Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The rally began just as ABC7 Chicago and the New York Times reported Trump had initially planned to stay in Chicago during the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump will be formally declared the GOP presidential nominee.

A spokeswoman for Trump denied the reports but a police source told the Journal Sentinel law enforcement had been notified of daily trips planned by Trump from Chicago to Milwaukee during the convention, July 15-18.

“These lying people that say, 'Oh he doesn't like Milwaukee.' I love Milwaukee. I said you got to fix the crime, we all know that, you got to make sure the election is honest, but I'm the one that picked Milwaukee," Trump told the crowd

Rallygoers unfazed by Milwaukee 'horrible city' comment

Trump's rally in southeastern Wisconsin also comes less than a week after he called Milwaukee, a "horrible city," weeks before Milwaukee is set to host the Republican National Convention in July. That prompted backlash from state Democrats and Biden on social media. Racine is about 30 miles south of Milwaukee.

Republican members of Wisconsin's congressional delegations offered different accounts of what Trump was referring to, such as crime or elections. Trump has previously made false claims about illegal votes in Milwaukee, though late returns for Biden in 2020 were because of how the city processes its absentee ballots.

Those at the rally said the media had taken what Trump said out of context but mostly agreed that Trump was talking about crime, which they also saw as a problem in Milwaukee.

"It's the violence, and that's what he was referring to. Milwaukee is a beautiful city, if you go to the right place," said Kim Toutant from Racine, who was attending her first rally. "Every day, children are being shot in their own homes, sitting on their couch."

Buck Steiniger, who is from the Wausau area, thought people in northern Wisconsin weren't very concerned about crime in Milwaukee. "The people up there are like, 'Whatever happens down there, we're safe up here,'" he said.

Fellow rallygoer John Lazariciu said it was a case of the media trying to smear Trump, and said they don’t give the same attention to statements Biden makes.

“He mumbles gibberish on the world stage and the media, they cover for him,” Lazariciu said. “All the headlines on Trump from liberal media, it's easy for me to look past it, seeing how they've treated him for nine years now.”

Michael Boese of Edgerton said “It’s clear as day” Trump was referring to crime. 

“He was saying how bad the crime isn't in Milwaukee, it's horrible. Everyone knows it,” Boese said. “I like Milwaukee. I’m a Brewers fan, I go to the State Fair, but the crime is getting bad.”

Milwaukee had double-digit percentage drops in homicides (20%), car theft (23%) and property crime (13%) from 2022 to 2023, though those crimes were up compared to 2019.

Trump claims Biden immigration order is a plan to create new voters for Democrats

Thousands of immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens but are in the country illegally would be protected from deportation and be allowed to work while they seek permanent legal status under a new government program announced by President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

Trump characterized the plan as a Democratic project to allow hundreds of thousands of immigrants to vote.

Biden plans to allow undocumented spouses and their children to apply for permanent resident status without leaving the country if they meet certain criteria.

To be eligible, immigrants must have resided in the United States for 10 years or more as of June 17, 2024, and be legally married to a U.S. citizen by that date. They cannot have been paroled and cannot pose a threat to public safety and national security. On average, those who are eligible for the program have resided in the United States for 23 years, officials said.

Under current law, many migrants seeking legal status must first depart the United States and wait to be processed abroad, which can take years. The new rule will allow them to stay in the United States and work for up to three years while they seek permanent legal status.

Nothing in the order allows them to vote unless they become citizens.

In Racine, Trump characterized the plan as "a direct attack on American democracy, and yet another example is how Biden and his communists are demolishing our constitutional system and replacing it with a corrupt and fascist regime."

Trump said the plan "will be ripped up and thrown out on the very first day that we're back in office."

"You know what they're trying to do? They're trying to sign these people up and register (to vote)," Trump said without evidence. "They're not citizens. They're not allowed to do it. It's illegal as hell."

Trump again falsely claims he 'did much better' in 2020 in Wisconsin than in 2016

During his speech, Trump repeated a familiar false claim that he performed better in Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election, compared to the 2016 election. 

PolitiFact Wisconsin checked this claim in April, ahead of Trump's first rally in Green Bay. In 2020, Biden took 1,630,866 votes compared to Trump’s 1,610,184 in the state, so Trump lost by 20,682 votes. 

Trump did win the state in 2016, taking more than 22,000 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton. He netted 1,405,284 votes in Wisconsin in 2016.

While Trump picked up more raw votes in 2020, his performance was not better because he lost by about 20,000 votes.

Eric Hovde appears on stage with Trump

Trump-backed U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde appeared with Trump on stage as he challenges Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, praising Trump’s immigration policies and criticizing rising prices under Biden.

“They’re crushing the working class,” Hovde said. “And how about the border? President Trump showed you the numbers … he had the border completely under control.”

Trump during his speech said Hovde was from the Racine area, but Hovde is a businessman from Madison, not southeast Wisconsin. Trump announced his endorsement of Hovde in April during his first Wisconsin visit of the campaign, in Green Bay. 

Biden allies blast Trump over Foxconn handling

Ahead of Trump’s rally, allies of Biden held a press conference in Racine to blast Trump over his handling of an unsuccessful economic development project from Taiwanese-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn.

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans in 2017 signed into law billions in taxpayer-funded incentives for Foxconn to build an LCD panel factory in Racine County with the promise of 13,000 jobs.

Trump held events at the White House to help move the project along and declared it would be the “eighth wonder of the world” during its groundbreaking in 2018. The project has not materialized. On Tuesday, Trump did not mention the massive project that was set to take place in the same county his rally was held.

“Trump's policies did not bring the promised jobs to Wisconsin. In fact, we lost jobs. A second term could be even more disastrous,” Democratic state Rep. Greta Neubauer of Racine said at the news conference at the local Democratic Party headquarters.

More:President Biden touts Microsoft's Racine County 'comeback project,' contrasts it with Foxconn failure

Rallygoer Gina Kocjas of Caledonia said she blames the fallout of Foxconn on Walker and the state Legislature.

“I don't blame Trump for that,” said Kocjas, who lives in Racine County.

She said Trump’s base in Racine won’t budge because of Foxxconn — or his convictions in the New York hush money case. 

“He has his base and he's getting more and more of a base. These convictions and all that don’t matter," Kocjas said.

Vivek Ramaswamy compares Trump's criminal charges to hurdles faced by the founding fathers

Former Republican presidential candidate and longshot Trump running mate contender Vivek Ramaswamy sought to compare Trump to the first president of the United States as a prelude to Trump's speech in Racine. 

In his remarks to the rally crowd, Ramaswamy compared the criminal charges Trump faces to turmoil during the country's founding. 

"They made those sacrifices in 1776 and I believe today it's a 1776 moment in 2024 and Donald Trump is the George Washington of our moment. That is what I believe. That is why I'm here today," he said.

Earlier this year, influential conservatives encouraged Trump to pick Ramaswamy as his running mate but other contenders have risen in Trump's eyes in recent weeks. 

Trump says he prefers Lake Michigan because of its lack of sharks

Trump spoke Tuesday along a harbor of Lake Michigan, which he described as "beautiful."

"Much better this, or sitting on the Pacific or the Atlantic, which has sharks," Trump said to laughter from the crowd. "I'll take the one without the sharks."

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Molly Beck, Rachel Hale and Hope Karnopp can be reached at, and


Note: The Journal Times also has extensive coverage of the Trump rally, with many photos.  See it here:

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