Donald Trump to campaign in Wilmington Saturday as he faces history-making criminal case

Former President Donald Trump will be in Wilmington, North Carolina, Saturday, after his first week as a criminal defendant in the hush-money trial in which jury selection is ongoing in New York.

Trump will headline a rally at the Aero Center, a private airplane hangar at Wilmington International Airport, located at 1830 Flightline Road. The campaign did not immediately announce the exact time of his arrival and anticipated remarks.

The visit will come after a week of court appearances for the former President, who is the GOP presumptive nominee for the third Presidential Election cycle in a row.

As of Wednesday morning, seven jurors had been chosen for the trial, with 11 still needed. Attorneys for both the defense and prosecution are struggling to find individuals able to consider the case without being affected by personal bias, a symptom of having a defendant who is a previous occupant of the White House.

Trump is accused of — and has pleaded not guilty to — 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment that Trump’s company made to reimburse his attorney at the time, Michael Cohen. Cohen had paid porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her claims that she had a sexual encounter with Trump 10 years prior.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees. The prosecution has described the money as being part of a scheme to bury damaging stories Trump feared could help his opponent in the 2016 race, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he made about women.

Trump has acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment and that it was designed to stop Daniels from going public about the alleged encounter. But Trump previously said it had nothing to do with the campaign.

North Carolina is a key battleground in this year’s presidential contest. The swing state went for Trump in 2020, by a margin of 1.4 percentage points. A recent Quinnipiac University Poll found Trump on the up-side of a too-close-to-call race, with 48% support to President Joe Biden’s 46%.

Wilmington, which is located in New Hanover County, represents an opportunity for Trump to gain ground in the Tar Heel State. While Trump won the state, New Hanover County went for Biden, by 2.1 percentage points, according to POLITICO.

The state has been trending more toward Republicans in recent years. POLITICO reported in 2020 that it had shifted from a neutral D+0 in 2008 to an R+2 in 2012 and R+4 in 2016. For this cycle, Cook Political Report’s electoral college ratings place the state’s 16 electoral college votes in the “lean Republican” category.

Other than Virginia, which Cook Political Reports rates a “solid Democrat,” and Georgia, which is a toss-up, North Carolina is the most competitive of the southeastern states. Florida and Texas follow as “likely Republican,” and all other states in the region land in the “solid Republican” category.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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