Trump blasts Biden’s economic record in Waukesha visit

The former president rallied in Wisconsin during a break from his criminal court case in New York

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

While on a break from his criminal trial in New York Wednesday, former President Donald Trump hammered President Joe Biden’s economic record at a Waukesha rally.

Trump largely focused his critiques on inflation rates during his speech at the Waukesha County Expo Center, six months out from a national election that is expected to pit the two against each other for a second time.

“Inflation is what they call a country buster,” Trump said. “Ask Germany how inflation many, many years ago destroyed the country.”

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Trump pledged to “throw out Bidenomics and…replace it with MAGAnomics,” including overturning Biden’s signature legislative achievements such as the Inflation Reduction Act. Those policies are key to Biden’s own reelection strategy, which emphasizes investments in things like infrastructure and student loan forgiveness.

He also attacked Biden’s border policy — an issue on which Republican lawmakers in Congress have battled the White House — and pledged to have “the largest deportation in the history of our country.”

It was Trump’s second visit to Wisconsin in recent weeks. The event came as Trump is on trial in New York facing criminal charges connected to an alleged scheme by his campaign to pay off an adult film actress in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

On Tuesday, he was held in contempt and ordered to pay $9,000 for violating a gag order by posting on social media about the trial.

In the New York case, Trump is charged with falsifying business records to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, who has alleged the two had an extramarital affair. His visit to Wisconsin came during a break in the court proceedings. Testimony in the case is expected to resume Tuesday.

Trump also praised the police response to student protests at Columbia University in New York late Tuesday night. NYPD officers arrested and removed student protesters who had occupied campus buildings as part of a weeks-long encampment protesting the Israel-Gaza war.

And he promised to reinstate a travel ban on people from certain majority-Muslim nations that he put forward in his term in office, and which Biden overturned in 2021. He also repeated recent promises to bar Gazan refugees from entering the United States.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wis. Morry Gash/AP Photo

Before Trump took the podium before about 1,200 people, surrogates including Wisconsin GOP Chair Brian Schimming criticized the record of Democratic President Joe Biden, especially on economics and social issues. Schimming asked the crowd to commit to doing what it takes to reelect the former Republican president.

“Everything that we do matters — every single one of us here,” Schimming said. “We have a lot of jobs to do between now and Nov. 5. But if you do your job, and you do your job, and you do your job, and you do your job, on Nov. 5, Joe Biden will be out of a job.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Biden-Harris campaign in Wisconsin said a second Trump term would spell out “more suffering and higher costs” for Americans.

“Donald Trump thinks Wisconsinites don’t remember how badly he failed us: thousands of manufacturing jobs were lost, unemployment skyrocketed, and factories shut down,” said spokesperson Brianna Johnson. “He’s only running again to enact revenge for himself and to make his rich friends richer.”  

Waukesha County will be key to a Trump victory

Hours before the event began, supporters — many bedecked in red Make America Great hats, or wearing Trump-themed shirts and socks — began lining up outside of the convention center. Less than a mile down the road, a large billboard credited Trump with helping to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In a TIME Magazine interview published Tuesday, Trump reiterated a more recent stance equivocating over whether he would support a federal abortion ban. He recently said it was up to states to decide how to regulate abortion, including whether women should be punished if they receive one.

Trump repeated his states-first approach to abortion on Wednesday, saying that would help neutralize controversy on the issue.

“Some states have been pretty much right there where they want to be, other states have gone far more liberal in that sense…and some were more conservative,” he said. “We did something that took courage.”

According to new polling released Wednesday by NPR and Marist College, Trump has made advances with younger voters, who are typically seen as a more Democratic voting bloc. But President Joe Biden has received significant criticism from young voters about his handling of the war between Israel and Gaza. That issue has manifested in protests at college campuses around the country in recent weeks, including at the Universities of Wisconsin.

Biden has also lost favorability among voters of color. But both candidates — the presumptive nominees from their respective parties — are relatively unpopular. According to the NPR/Marist polling, Trump has a 56 percent unfavorability rating, and Biden has a 54 percent unfavorability rating.

Wisconsin will be a key swing state in this November’s election. Trump won the state narrowly in 2016, by about 0.77 percent, and Biden won by an equally narrow margin — 0.63 percent — in 2020.

Trump carried Waukesha County with about 60 percent of the vote in 2020. The county is part of the conservative WOW counties surrounding Milwaukee that Republicans historically depended on for electoral victories, although Democrats have made some inroads there in recent years.