President Donald Trump on Thursday defended holding a political rally for his 2020 reelection campaign as a record-breaking hurricane slammed Florida, claiming without evidence that “thousands” were lined up for the rally more than a day ahead of time.
“We had thousands of people lined up, and they were there for a day and a half before,” he told reporters from the Oval Office. “And I couldn’t tell people that have been standing in line for a day and a half, wanting to get into the arena, that I’m not going.”
He similarly told reporters Wednesday that there were “thousands of people who started coming last night.”
Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit Florida’s panhandle on record, made landfall at 1:40 p.m. ET Wednesday. Around two and a half hours later, Trump boarded Air Force One on his way to Erie, Pennsylvania. Once there, he attended a private fundraiser and then addressed the rally crowd.
Trump even borrowed a picture from CNN’s Jim Acosta showing a line to get into the rally venue — but from several hours before it began, not a day and a half.
He said onstage that America “sends its unwavering love and support” to those in the storm’s path. Before long, though, he moved on, celebrating “clean, beautiful Pennsylvania coal.”
Trump makes unsubstantiated claim "thousands of people" were waiting to get into his Pennsylvania campaign rally a "day and a half" before it began. pic.twitter.com/vgHMMVpcwL
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 11, 2018