By Zach Armstrong
NEWPORT NEWS, Va -- “This is the most important election in the history of this country,” said the President to thousands at Newport News on the eve of announcing his choice to replace Justice Ruth Badar Ginsburg.
President Donald Trump made his first campaign appearance in Virginia this year on Sept. 25 to make his case for re-election. The campaign event was held at the Newport News Williamsburg International Airport for the incumbent presidential candidate less than 40 days before the general election.
Almost an hour before the President arrived, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the crowd citing the President’s support for the military, economic record, appointment of conservative judges, handling of the coronavirus, tax cuts, trade agreements and pro-life stance.
“I think the choice in this election is whether America remains America,” said Pence. “We need to decide right here right now that Joe Biden will never be president of the United States.”
“We're just 39 days away from another great victory for the American people,” said Pence. “I know Virginia is going to say yes to four more years of Donald Trump in 2020,” to which the crowd reacted with excitement chanting “Four more years!”
Shortly after arriving on Air Force One and appearing on stage, President Trump addressed second amendment rights accusing Joe Biden and Gov. Ralph Northam of attempting to confiscate guns from citizens of the Commonwealth.
“You have a crazy governor, every two weeks he’s trying to take your guns away,” said Trump. “You have a governor who thinks he's Michael Jackson. Remember he wanted to moonwalk across the stage and his wife said ‘No No No.’”
Northam announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 along with his wife hours before the President’s visit. The President made no mention of the Governor’s sickness.
During the rally, the President also claimed his presidency had been badly affected by erroneous claims that his candidacy worked alongside the Russian government and asserted his reelection prospects would have been higher without the Mueller investigation into his administration.
“What would our popularity be like if you didn’t hear all of this bullsh*t?” said Trump in reference to the investigation. “The Democrats would probably say ‘let's cancel this election because we have no chance,’”
An estimated 4,000 people were in attendance despite Gov. Northam’s coronavirus restrictions which limit 250 participants for large gatherings. According to the Daily Press, Director of the Hampton and Peninsula Health Districts Natasha Dwamena asked the host to reschedule or scale back the rally saying the event “poses a significant public health risk.”
The event came amidst political turmoil over how the nomination process of a new Supreme Court Justice should happen over the next few months. The President signaled he would announce his nominee the following day.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Badar Gisnburg passed away one week before the rally, opening the court for another lifetime appointment nominated by the President. Trump has already nominated two Supreme Court justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Congressional Republicans wish to swiftly approve a new Justice despite blocking President Obama’s nomination in 2016. Republicans rationale was that a Supreme Court Justice should be nominated by whoever is elected in the upcoming election. Under similar circumstances in 2020 with the death of Ginsburg, Republicans have backtracked citing the Senate’s Republican majority.
“If they were in power they'd do the same thing only more rapidly,” said Trump at the Newport News rally. “The only thing I can tell you for sure is that it's gonna be a woman, do any of you have any objections to that?” The President’s rhetorical question received shouts of “No!” throughout the crowd.
Amy Coney Barrett, a Judge for the Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, was nominated by the President the following day of the event in Newport News. Barrett, as opposed to Ginsburg, holds a conservative record on issues such as reproductive rights, unionization and religious freedom.
“It's always sad to hear about someone’s passing but it was God’s will for her to pass at that time so [Trump] can replace her and he has that right and he’s going to win again and probably replace a bunch more,” said Dee, a Richmond woman who sold MAGA memorabilia to attendants prior to the rally, who references her religious faith as why she supports the President.
“Most importantly we have a President that is putting God first and that is what will save our country,” said Dee. “God has chosen Trump to bring this country back to what it used to be and the only way that will happen is if people want God front and center; civilizations that put God on the back burner usually don’t do too well,”
According to a poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University released Sept. 15, Biden is ahead of Trump 53% to 39%. The commonwealth voted in favor of democratic candidate and former First Lady, Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In order to make voting safer, Gov. Northam has passed bills providing drop off ballot boxes at registrar offices. The Governor also signed a series of laws meant to make voting easier that were passed before the pandemic including rescinding the previously existing voter ID law, made Election Day a state holiday and allowed residents to vote up to 45 days early without an approved reason.
Conservatives have held reservations about laws that facilitate voting claiming it will lead to widespread voter fraud. President Trump told supporters during the rally that he received reports of ballots that had been mishandled against him.
“In Virginia they sent two ballots to thousands of people so people in democrat areas got two ballots instead of one,” said Trump. The President also claimed that he heard of ballots that voted for him being discarded in rivers and wastebaskets.
The election will be held Nov. 3 with former Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate and the incumbent President Donald Trump running on the Republican ticket.