MINDEN, Nevada, U.S. (AP) – Kicking off a tour of the west, U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned Saturday in Nevada trying to expand his re-election options, offering a barrage of unsubstantiated claims. about the Democrats trying to rig the election.

Trump defied local authorities by holding a rally in the small town of Minden, after his original plan to do so in Reno was blocked for fear of violating health recommendations to combat the coronavirus. During the 90 minutes in which he listed grievances and launched attacks, Trump claimed that the Democratic governor of the state had tried to prevent the act and reiterated his false claim that votes by mail would falsify the results of the elections.

“This is the man we trust millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win in these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? ”Trump said of the governor, Steve Sisolak. « The only way the Democrats can win the election is by rigging it. »

As part of his crusade against vote-by-mail, attorneys for the president’s campaign have urged a federal judge in Las Vegas to block a state law and prevent all active Nevada voters from being mailed ballots within eight weeks. for voting.

At a crowded airfield where few people wore a mask, Trump spoke to mountains shrouded in mist and the smell of smoke in the air from wildfires in neighboring California. The president expressed his condolences to the victims of the fire, although he declared that « I don’t have to be nice anymore » and focused on attacking his rival, Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump claimed that the Democratic vice presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris would be president « in about a month » if Biden wins, stating that the former vice president would be just a straw man and Harris would hold power.

The president assured that the media would treat Biden « like Winston Churchill » only if he could stand up in the debate within three weeks. And kicking off a tour that will include stops in Las Vegas and Phoenix, he teased Biden’s slower travel schedule. « Do you know where he is now? He’s in his damn basement again! « 

To round off, Trump recalled his rival in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, leading the crowd in her traditional chorus of « Lock her up! » The president said he normally tried to silence the chant, but on Saturday he said « I don’t care if they say it anymore » and broke another presidential rule by suggesting that Clinton « should be in jail. »

He also made a strong case for his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 190,000 Americans and continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives a day. And he blamed Democratic governors across the country, including Sisolak, for deliberately stopping the reopening in their states to undermine his reelection options.

State Republicans claimed that Sisolak had tried to prevent the rally, although the decision to cancel the event in Reno was taken by airport officials. Sisolak limited indoor or outdoor events to 50 people in May, a recommendation based on the White House reopening guidelines.

Privately, Trump campaign staff welcomed the dispute, believing that it gave prominence to one of his campaign arguments: Trump’s insistence that the country has passed a tipping point in the pandemic, and that Democrats like Biden and several governors are hurting the economy and the mood of the country with their restrictions. It’s the kind of political fight Trump enjoys, and it underscores Nevada’s importance in a fight increasingly focused on multiple swing states.

Thousands of people turned out for the Minden event, including Tom Lenz, 64, of Sparks, Nevada, who said he had not voted for Trump in the last election.

“But I will this time. I think he knows what he’s doing, ”Lenz said. “He’s in favor of faith, he’s pro-life, he’s brought more peace to the world. Biden can’t even speak. « 

In 2016, Trump narrowly lost in Nevada, and the state has tended more toward Democrats in the last decade. But the Republican campaign has invested heavily in the state and used efforts on the ground to get voters. Democrats, by contrast, have relied mostly on online campaigning during the pandemic, except for the Culinary Union of Casino Workers, which has sent workers on door-to-door visits.