Former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd a campaign rally in Wellington, Ohio, on Saturday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
June 26 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign stump in suburban Cleveland on Saturday night and hit on familiar themes during a speech where he criticized current Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, calling him a "disgrace to your state."
In his first rally since leaving office on Jan. 20, Trump took aim at Gonzalez and other Republicans who voted to impeach him, like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, along with Sen. Mitch Romney of Utah in his speech at the Lorain County Fairgrounds, which is southwest of Ceveland. Trump campaigned for his former White House aide Max Miller, who is running for Gonzalez's House seat in the Republican primary next year.
While Trump did not mention his plans for 2024, though speaker after speaker, including Miller and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who attended the rally, repeatedly talked about the former president running again. Trump did not respond with the crowd chanted "four more years" during his speech.
Trump won Ohio's 18 Electoral College votes in 2020 and 2016.
"You have to deliver massive majorities in Congress," Trump said in calling Gonzalez a RINO, Republican In Name Only. "Right here in Ohio, you have an opportunity to elect an incredible patriot to Congress. He grew up in this area. Max Miller loves our country and he loves the people of Ohio."
Earlier in the rally, Miller said Gonzalez betrayed the voters who put him in office with that vote to impeach Trump and it was "something he can never come back from."
Trump went on the criticize the Biden administration and the Democratic party, calling their agenda "radical." He charged that Vice President Kamala Harris's trip to the U.S.-Mexico border Friday was only made because he announced that he would be going to the border next week.
"I don't think she ever was going to go," Trump said of Harris.
Trump said he believes voters will reject Biden and his agenda, allowing Republicans to control both branches of Congress again to stop his initiatives.
"Together we will send Biden, and the media and all the people who are so bad to our country, the Big Tech tyrants, a message they cannot ever censor, cancel, or ignore. We will take back the House. We will take back the Senate and we will take back America and we will do it soon."
Before Trump took the stage, the crowd broke out into a chant of "lock her up" when Jordan, who was speaking at the time, mentioned Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Jordan smiled and declined to intervene.
The former president had a lot riding on the rally in GOP-friendly territory as he tried to create the magic of his past raucous rallies that helped him get elected in 2016 and nearly won him a second term in 2020.
In a sign of a split among Ohio GOP leadership and the former president, Gov. Mike DeWine's office earlier said he would not attend the rally while Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said a family commitment kept him away.
Former Rep. Jim Renacci, who is running against DeWine in the Republican primary for governor next year, appeared along with Republican Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Jane Timken.