Trump to rally faithful in Arizona

Trump is expected to rehearse a familiar litany of complaints at the rally in Florence, Arizona
Trump is expected to rehearse a familiar litany of complaints at the rally in Florence, Arizona MANDEL NGAN AFP/File

Florence (United States) (AFP) – Donald Trump will rally the faithful in Arizona on Saturday, rehearsing yet again his unfounded claims that the US presidential election was stolen from him, and repeating his familiar litany of complaints.

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After abandoning a pledged press conference on January 6 -- the anniversary of the invasion of the Capitol by his supporters -- the defeated former president will be back in front of a sympathetic crowd.

"Many topics will be discussed," he said in a statement Friday, "including the Rigged Presidential Election of 2020, the fake Big Lie, the corrupt LameStream Media, the Afghanistan disaster, Inflation, the sudden lack of respect for our Nation and its leaders, and much more.

"Big crowds, will also be covered on TV. See you Saturday evening!"

The rally, in a rural area outside Phoenix, is expected to feature a raft of Republicans who happily parrot the unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was fixed.

They include Kari Lake, who Trump has endorsed for governor of Arizona in this year's race. She has previously said she would not have certified President Joe Biden's victory if she had been in office at the time.

Also expected to appear is Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, who has spent millions of dollars trying to overturn the election.

Trump, who lost his Twitter megaphone for his repeated lies about the poll, has been a much lower-key presence in US politics since being booted from office.

But he still looms large in the Republican Party, where adherence to his unproven theories -- or at least not publicly denying them -- is often vital to survival for members of Congress and state legislatures.

The Florence rally will be the first time Trump has appeared before a large crowd since October, and observers will be watching the turnout as a gauge of how much power he still wields with the base.

In the lead up to his election win in 2016, and throughout his presidency, tens of thousands of supporters would throng venues to hear their man run through his grievances.

But crowds have since dwindled.

Trump has largely shunned the fact-based media since leaving office, preferring occasional call-ins to sympathetic outlets.

But last week he ventured onto National Public Radio (NPR), where he said he recommends that people get vaccinated against Covid-19 -- a hot button issue in the US, where there is widespread distrust of science among those on the Right.

He then cut the interview short when challenged over his claims of election fraud.

The rally comes 24 hours after pro-Trump TV channel OAN was dumped by its main distributor.

The former president had repeatedly directed his fans towards the conspiracy-peddling outlet, which is hoping to take a bite out of the market for right-wing viewers dominated by Fox News.

The event also comes after the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers -- a pro-Trump militia group -- and 10 others were indicted for seditious conspiracy over their role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol.