- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 15, 2022

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday promised that he would be staging a “comeback,” his clearest indication yet that he plans to run for the White House in 2024.

He said it would be a “comeback the likes of which nobody has ever seen.”

He made the pledge at his first rally speech of the 2022 election season. He also blasted “tyrannical” COVID-19 vaccine mandates, runaway inflation and a national crime wave in a brick-by-brick takedown of President Biden’s first years in office.

In the nearly two-hour speech in Florence, Arizona, he piled on top of the mounting defeats for Mr. Biden: the virus still raging, the Supreme Court blocking Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers and Mr. Biden’s agenda in its death throes in Congress.

“We’ve had more problems, we’ve had more destruction than five presidents put together in the last year,” he said at the “Save America” rally.

He also sounded off against the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying Democrats are using the riot to “justify an unprecedented assault on American civil rights and liberties.”

Repeatedly circling back to the COVID-19 pandemic, he portrayed Mr. Biden’s failures as vindication of the Trump administration’s performance in combating the virus.

“By now it should be clear to everyone that today’s radical Democrat Party is driven by a mean and vicious spirit of left-wing fascism,” Mr. Trump said. “Biden’s trying to bully and intimidate people with his ridiculous unscientific mandates because he and his entire administration have absolutely no idea what the hell is happening.”

Ahead of the rally, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Adonna Biel issued a statement anticipating Mr. Trump’s attacks and describing him and the GOP as a threat to America.

“It might be a new year, but we all know we’re going to get the same Donald Trump. Let there be no mistake, the Republican Party has surrendered to Donald Trump’s stranglehold and fully embraced him no matter the cost to our democracy or Americans’ lives,” Ms. Biel said. “Today’s rally will serve as little more than a reminder of the chaos and extremism of today’s Republican Party, and why 81 million Americans rejected Donald Trump in 2020 to elect President Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris, and Democrats who have led the fastest economic recovery in history, delivered a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to repair Arizona’s roads and bridges, gotten Americans vaccinated, and helped create over 6 million jobs.”

Thousands of Trump supporters turned out for the rally.

Mr. Trump has been a staunch supporter of the vaccine despite pushback from his base and has drawn praise from the White House over his public comments in support of the jab.

But the short-lived truce ended Saturday.

“These corrupt power-hungry lunatics need to hear us loud and clear,” he said. “We are done having our lives controlled by politicians and Washington bureaucrats. We’re done with the mandates including the mandates for front-line health care workers.”

Mr. Trump also took aim at lockdowns and mask mandates put in place in Democratic-run states.

“They’re just running roughshod all over this country,” he said. “They’re truly hurting the American people. They’ve taken away their liberties.”

“I say enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore because our country is going to hell. It’s a disaster and it all happened in such a short period of time.”

Mr. Trump also repeated his claims that he won the 2020 presidential election and Democrats stole it from him, though scores of legal challenges were rejected by the courts and recounts in several states failed to alter the results.

“The real insurrection took place on Election Day,” Mr. Trump said.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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