Trump set aside some of his usual name-calling at a rally in Wisconsin earlier in the week and made a short-lived plea for unity as authorities pressed ahead with an investigation and intercepted more than a dozen pipe bombs meant for former President Barack Obama, Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, other prominent Democrats and CNN.
But after the arrest in Florida of a Trump supporter now charged in the attacks, Trump was back in familiar form at a Charlotte rally Friday night. His reference to “Crooked Hillary Clinton” prompted chants of “Lock her up” and a joke from the president: “Oh boy, they’re going to be reporting about you tonight.”
He assailed the media at length, accusing reporters of trying “to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points” against him. The crowd broke into frequent chants of “CNN sucks!”
California Rep. Maxine Waters, frequently dubbed “low IQ” by Trump, earned a mention as well. She was one of the targets of the pipe bomber. None of the intercepted bombs exploded and no one was hurt.
Trump is on a rally blitz, hoping to help vulnerable Republicans in the Nov. 6 elections that will determine which party controls Congress. He’s planning at least 10 rallies over the five-day stretch before Election Day.
He was set to speak Saturday at the annual convention of the Future Farmers of America in Indiana before rallying in southern Illinois for Rep. Mike Bost, who’s in a tight re-election race in a once reliably Democratic district that supported Trump in 2016. The Indiana stop is a nod to farmers, who strongly support the president, though the relationship has been tested during Trump’s trade conflict with China.
Trump told reporters as he left Washington on Friday not to expect toned-down rhetoric. “I could really tone it up,” he said, “because, as you know, the media has been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.”