Former president Donald Trump opened the first mega-rally of his 2024 campaign by playing a recording of the national anthem sung by inmates charged in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the 90-minute remarks that followed on Saturday, Trump repeatedly emphasized — even more than in last year’s rallies for the midterms — his false insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him. But he added a new twist: that his political opponents were now bent on rigging the next election against him through the prospect of criminal charges.
“This is their new form of trying to beat people at the polls,” Trump elaborated to reporters on his flight home from the rally, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post. “This is worse than stuffing the ballot boxes, which they did.”
Saturday’s speech by the early polling leader for the Republican nomination shows how Trump is seeking to adapt the stolen election myth, continually absorbing new allegations when old ones are debunked or obsolete — from supposed foreign plots to tamper with voting machines to alleged manipulation of social media and now potential prosecution. The latest version also underscores Trump’s continued determination to elevate conspiracy theories with inflammatory rhetoric that has already inspired violence by his supporters, which he continues to downplay or defend.