In Michigan, Trump promises “a magnificent victory”

Four years ago, Donald Trump completed his marathon of meetings in Grand Rapids, western Michigan, at more than 1 a.m. A few hours later, on November 8, 2016, he won the Midwestern state, and the presidential election, both to everyone’s surprise, over his rival Hillary Clinton. Monday, on the eve of the poll where he is playing his re-election against Democrat Joe Biden, the outgoing president decided to end his campaign in the same place. “I’m a little superstitious: we’re going to do the same”, he had admitted earlier.

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Like four years ago, the rally started late in the evening, and Donald Trump took to the stage outside, against an airport hangar, around midnight. “I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I was there, with the President, on the day of his election in 2016, as on the day of his re-election in 2020”, proudly advances Denver, come with Tammy, his wife. “He is the most respectful president of Christian values ​​that we have ever had, insists this one. He saved our nation. ”

Donald Trump’s routine hat-throwing in Grand Rapids on Monday night. Photo Peter Van Agtmael. Magnum for Liberation

“Biden doesn’t stand a chance”

The night is freezing, and the two fifties are bundled up in a blanket. “We waited three hours in the mud and the cold, but here we are”, Tammy insists. They have already voted, like nearly 100 million Americans according to the US Elections Project, by mail or in advance, strongly encouraged by most states to avoid traffic jams at polling stations in times of pandemic. Denver is convinced: “It’s going to be a tidal wave for Trump. An earthquake across the whole world. Biden doesn’t stand a chance. ” As for the polls, which give a lead of five points on average to the former vice-president of Barack Obama in Michigan, he does not believe “not at all”.

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This Midwestern state had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. In 2016, Trump won by a tiny 10,000 votes difference (0.3 percentage point) over his Democratic rival. Hillary Clinton. “We will win like last time, but give me a bigger margin”, Trump quipped from the platform Monday night. Promising a “Magnificent victory” after the presidential election. “Tomorrow we will once again write a page of history”, he added in front of a compact crowd of supporters, with their enthusiasm intact despite the cold and late hour. Last week, after a Trump rally in Nebraska, several people had to be hospitalized for hypothermia.

2020. Grand Rapids, Michigan. USA.  President Donald Trump’s last rally before the 2020 Election on November 3, 2020.  Grand Rapids was also the site of his final rally in the 2016 election. In Grand Rapids, Monday evening. Photo Peter Van Agtmael. Magnum for Liberation

“Disease!”

The outgoing president’s usual campaign speech included a few calibrated outings for the Midwestern state and its blue collar electorate: “You better vote for me, I got you so many car factories”, said the president. Michigan’s manufacturing industry lost 5,000 jobs last year, and over 60,000 due to the pandemic.

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Chris, 34, is one of them: he lost his caravan sales job last spring. This fervent supporter of the President says that “Trump kept all his promises”, and that he has “Doing everything to protect American jobs”. Instead, he accuses Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of having him “Put sticks in the wheels” to give a “Disastrous image of the economy and damaging the balance sheet” Of the president. Shortly after, from the podium, Donald Trump will also refer to the governor: “It would be good if she opened up the economy, opened schools”, Trump said. “Disease!” chanted the crowd, recycling a slogan long reserved for Hillary Clinton. Since the spring, Gretchen Whitmer has become the pet peeve of anti-containment activists, and the target of armed militias, who had notably marched to the State Capitol. In early October, the FBI dismantled a far-right cell that was planning his kidnapping.

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Emma, ​​29, walks through the crowd with a box of pizza on which she has marked: «CNN sucks» (“CNN feared”). “CNN, and the media: they are the ones who propagate the division and pit people against each other”, she asserts. In tune with the President’s supporters, this young woman who works in advertising is convinced of Trump’s re-election. “Look around you, she says, pointing to the crowd gathered in the night. And look at the events of Biden: there is no one. And don’t tell me it’s because of the Covid. ” The Democratic candidate’s campaign refused to hold large gatherings ahead of the election, in the face of the rampant pandemic in the United States. On Friday, the country recorded its record for new daily infections (99,000 cases), and the coronavirus claims a thousand victims every day in the United States. Favoring small committees, and «drive-in rallies», meetings in car parks, where participants can stay in their cars. “People don’t like Biden, that’s all”, Emma insists, however.

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Trump, much criticized for his management of the health crisis, seeks to portray Biden’s caution as a liberticidal will. If the Democrat is elected, Trump argued, there will be no “No school, no diplomas, no marriage, no Thanksgiving, no Easter, no Christmas, no 4th of July, no future for our young people”.

“I will be so angry that I will not come back”

As at every meeting, the Democratic candidate has been the object of all the taunts of Trump. Faced with opinion polls, which show tighter-than-expected results in Texas, Trump claimed his opponent was “Against God, against weapons, and against oil. And he would have good scores in Texas? ” he pretended to wonder. Biden wants “Implement the biggest tax hike in history”Trump said. He wants “Destroy the suburbs, destroy your homes». “I can’t believe that could happen, the concept of losing to this guy, insisted the American president. You better go and vote, or else I’ll be so angry that I won’t come back here. ” Then: “You are so lucky that I agreed to be your president.”

2020. Grand Rapids, Michigan. USA.  President Donald Trump’s last rally before the 2020 Election on November 3, 2020.  Grand Rapids was also the site of his final rally in the 2016 election. In Grand Rapids, Monday evening. Photo Peter Van Agtmael. Magnum for Liberation

Isabelle Hanne special correspondent in Grand Rapids (Michigan)

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