WASHINGTON − Coming off an expected win in Nevada, former President Donald Trump began his South Carolina campaign Friday at a gun rights event in Pennsylvania − and spent much of his time attacking President Joe Biden over classified documents.
While pledging fidelity to the NRA and gun rights, Trump also criticized a special counsel’s decision this week refusing to prosecute Biden for retaining classified documents from his years as vice president; Trump faces a criminal trial in Florida this year in a classified documents case.
Trump also made references to Biden’s age and mental acuity, issues that Special Counsel Robert Hur cited in deciding not to prosecute Biden.
In the wake of criticism over Biden’s age, Democrats and some Republicans − including Haley − reminded Trump of his own cognitive lapses in recent months.
“I have long said the first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate will win the White House,” Haley said in a statement on the Hur report. Biden is 81 and Trump is 77.
Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said voters will stick with Biden’s steady leadership over Trump’s chaotic approach.
“Do we want order over chaos?” Fetterman said. “Do we want the truth over lies?”
Trump promotes gun rights
Trump told NRA members his administration “didn’t yield” on gun rights during his one-term presidency, while the Biden administration seeks to put the firearms industry “out of business.”
“Your Second Amendment will always be safe with me as your President,” Trump said.
In terms of politics, Trump all but demanded that the NRA help him, saying “they better endorse me.”
Democrats who participated in a conference call set up by the Biden campaign said they support “common sense” gun regulations that can help prevent mass shootings − proposals that Trump blocked when he was president.
“He’s bought and paid for by the NRA,” Fetterman said.
Trump, Biden, and classified documents
As for the classified documents flap, Fetterman denounced the special counsel’s report as a “smear” filled with “cheap shots” about Biden’s memory and mental ability.
Democrats − and Haley − pointed out that Trump has confused the names of foreign leaders and their countries, and once mixed up Haley with former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a rant over pre-insurrection security at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
During Trump’s NRA speech, the Biden campaign noted in a social media post that Trump had slurred some of his words.
Trump’s other campaign opponent, Haley, compared Biden’s age problems to those of Trump.
“Donald Trump has his own mental deficiencies,” Haley said in her statement, and “is prone to temper tantrums and wild rants, and confuses countries and who was in charge of Capitol security on January 6th.”
Trump faces his own classified documents trouble
Trump said he plans to ask a federal judge to dismiss the classified documents case against him, saying the decision in the Biden matter demonstrates “selective prosecution.”
There are differences between the Trump and Biden cases, however.
On to South Carolina
Trump picked up all 26 Republican convention delegates available in Nevada, winning caucuses organized by his supporters and in which he was the only major candidate.
Trump has said he wants to end Haley’s campaign in her home state of South Carolina, which holds its Republican primary two weeks from Saturday. The former president enjoys big leads in polls in the Palmetto State.
Trump travels to South Carolina on Saturday for a campaign event at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, near Myrtle Beach.
Haley, meanwhile, is spending the weekend on a bus tour of the state she once governed.
In his NRA speech, Trump said: “We’re going to do great in South Carolina.”