Former President Donald Trump stopped by a gun shop and toured a boat manufacturer in South Carolina Monday, ramping up his in-person campaign after a weekend online threatening the media, making multiple accusations of treason and urging congressional Republicans to go ahead and shut down the government.
He also claimed he could design a better fighter jet than the military.
The Republican presidential front-runner, who has spent far less time on the campaign trail than his leading rivals, began his trip to small-town Summerville with a meet-and-greet with volunteers at a local campaign office and a visit to a local gun store, where he admired a Glock handgun and posed for photos.
“I want to buy one,” Trump said, according to video of the stop.
Spokesman Steven Cheung posted that the former President, who is currently under federal indictment, had purchased the weapon during his visit to Palmetto State Armory, but later deleted the post on the social media site X, formerly Twitter, and clarified that Trump had only indicated he wanted to buy one.
Federal law prohibits the sale of guns to people under felony indictment and bars them from receiving a gun “which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” However, after a 2022 Supreme Court decision that created new standards for firearm restrictions, some judges have declared the measure unconstitutional. A federal appeals court is currently considering a challenge to the law.
Trump later rallied supporters outside a boat manufacturing facility in the blazing sun, with a collection of large power boats on display.
In his speech, Trump urged the crowd to deliver a commanding turnout in the state’s Feb. 24, 2024, primary and showed off a roster of new endorsements, including from the state’s attorney general, its secretary of state, its House majority leader and other members of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Trump also vowed to overturn a proposed Biden administration rule that would lower the speed limit for boats along the East Coast in an effort to prevent collisions with North Atlantic right whales. Opponents say the enhanced slowdown rules would force charter fishing boats to quit the business and disrupt the efficiency of busy seaports like the Port of Savannah.
While his rivals have been busy holding town halls and visiting local diners, Trump has spent much of the last months responding to his mounting legal troubles. He has been indicted four times in four jurisdictions and faces 91 criminal charges, but that has yet to hurt his standing in the GOP Primary.
In a sign of his dominance, he plans to skip the second Republican primary debate on Wednesday, as he did the first, and will instead visit Michigan to voice his opposition to President Joe Biden’s automotive policies amid an auto workers strike.
Trump, who has vowed retribution if he wins a second term, once again cast the indictments as nothing more than a political “witch hunt” after spending the weekend lashing out at the media and others on his Truth Social platform. Among his targets: NBC News and MSNBC, which he claimed “should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason.’” He once again slammed the free press — a cornerstone of U.S. democracy — as its “true threat,” while warning “The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!’”
Trump often casts unflattering coverage and stories he doesn’t like as ”fake.”
Beyond his complaints with the press, Trump lashed out at Mark Milley, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over phone calls he made to China in the final stormy months of Trump’s presidency. Milley has defended those calls as “routine” and “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.
But Trump on Friday claimed Milley had committed “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.” He said Milley’s retirement ”will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate!”
Trump also laced into congressional leaders as he pressed Republicans to embrace a looming government shutdown — “UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!”— and again called for the ouster of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “the weakest, dumbest, and most conflicted ‘Leader’ in U.S. Senate history.”
Trump was just as displeased with McConnell’s Democratic counterparts. “EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD RESIGN FROM THE SENATE!” he said, in the wake of a sweeping bribery indictment against New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
He also claimed, after the recent crash of an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in South Carolina, that as president he had told the the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin numerous times that the F-35 Fighter Jet was “in effect, DEFECTIVE, because it only has one engine.”
He insulted his former U.N. Ambassador and current GOP rival Nikki Haley, a native of South Carolina, calling her “Birdbrain.”
Trump last visited the state last month, when he spoke at the state GOP’s largest annual fundraiser in Columbia.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.