Away From the Confines of a Courtroom, Trump Rallies Beachside at the Jersey Shore


After a long and often tense week in his criminal trial in Manhattan, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday took part in a time-honored ritual enjoyed by countless New Yorkers in need of a break: He went to the shore.

Sandwiched between the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. Trump stood in front of tens of thousands of people at a rally on the beach in Wildwood, N.J., where he largely repeated the same criticisms of President Biden that have characterized his stump speech in recent months.

Fresh from court, Mr. Trump insisted that his case in Manhattan, on charges that he falsified business records related to a hush-money payment, was a “Biden show trial,” even though there is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Biden has been involved in the case.

Mr. Trump railed against pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, vowed to crack down on immigration and repeated his false claims that Democrats stole the 2020 election from him.

But if Mr. Trump’s speech largely consisted of what has become his standard fare, the setting stood out. Though New Jersey has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in every election since 1992, and Mr. Trump lost the state by double-digit margins in both 2016 and 2020, he insisted that he could win there in November.

“We’re expanding the electoral map, because we are going to officially play in the state of New Jersey,” Mr. Trump said to a packed crowd on the beach. “We’re going to win the state of New Jersey.”

Mr. Trump, who once owned casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and who often spends summers at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., has been publicly bullish on his chances in New Jersey for months. Political experts, and even some of his advisers, are skeptical.

Still, parts of the state are deeply conservative, including the area around Wildwood, a boardwalk town on the southern end of the Jersey Shore and a beach destination popular with working-class families. Many visitors come from Pennsylvania, a battleground state that backed Mr. Trump in 2016 but swung to Mr. Biden in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s rally, held shortly before the start of the summer season, brought hordes of people to the boardwalk, where many of the vendors who usually hawk an array of novelty items filled the front of their stores with Trump-related T-shirts and hats. Supporters stretched out on blankets and dabbed on sunscreen hours ahead of Mr. Trump’s arrival.

Against the backdrop of classic Americana, Mr. Trump repeated his typical criticism that Mr. Biden’s economic policies were hurting the middle class. With an amusement park operating rides in the background, he insisted that only he could preserve the summer shore tradition.

“The choice for New Jersey and Pennsylvania is simple,” Mr. Trump said, telling supporters to vote for him if they wanted “lower costs, higher income and more weekends down at the shore.” (The area’s locals usually say “down the shore,” but judging by the cheers of the crowd, the point was well received.)

The rally was a stark contrast to the scene at the Manhattan courthouse, where proceedings are more sober and Mr. Trump’s comments are limited to remarks to reporters before he enters and leaves the courtroom.

At his rally, Mr. Trump largely built on statements he has made in those limited appearances. He once again criticized Mr. Biden for warning Israel that he would not supply the country with weapons if it launched a major ground offensive, and he made his most explicit approval yet of Israel’s military strategy.

“I support Israel’s right to win its war on terror,” he told the crowd. “Is that OK? I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s good or bad politically. I don’t care.”

The rally in New Jersey was only Mr. Trump’s third since his trial began last month. Last week, he held back-to-back events in Wisconsin and Michigan, two battleground states expected to be more critical than New Jersey in the November election.

Mr. Trump, who is bound by a gag order in the case that keeps him from commenting on witnesses and jurors, limited his criticism of the case on Saturday. The judge in the case has found him in contempt, fining him $10,000 for violating the order and warning of possible jail time.



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