Former President Donald Trump expressed his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels ahead of Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary election at a rally in Waukesha Friday.
Michels addressed campaign issues such as dismantling Wisconsin Elections Commission, education reform and addressing crime throughout the state.
However, he used much of his speech at Friday’s rally to bolster his ties with Trump.
“We're going to take back America together,” Michels declared at the end of his speech. “Together, we're going to get Wisconsin headed in the right direction and make it the greatest state that it can be.”
Trump first endorsed Michels in June over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who was virtually tied with Michels in the latest Marquette Law School poll of the governor’s race. Kleefisch has endorsements from former Gov. Scott Walker and former Vice President Mike Pence, making Wisconsin’s governor primary the latest battleground between establishment Republicans and Trump loyalists.
Trump spoke before Michels, praising his work on projects such as the Keystone XL Pipeline and the U.S. Mexico border wall. Trump added that when they met to discuss the gubernatorial endorsement, he “spent more time talking [with Michels] about construction and boring machines than politics.”
“As your governor, Tim will crack down on violent crime, and he won't play games,” the former president said. “He will fight to lower soaring energy costs, create jobs [and] guarantee free and fair elections.”
Trump went on to attack Kleefisch, who he said “does not have what it takes” to defeat current Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
“She’s a career politician and political insider … and the handpicked candidate of the failed establishment, the RINOs [Republican in name only], the Washington swamp,” Trump said.
He also slammed current President Joe Biden, blaming him for inflation, illegal immigration at the Mexican border and the military pullout from Afghanistan.
“If you combined all five of the worst presidents in U.S. history, they still wouldn’t have done as much damage as Biden has done in two years,” Trump told the crowd.
Also present at the rally was Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who was assigned by Robin Vos late last year to investigate Trump’s claims of election fraud in Wisconsin.
Trump praised Gableman for “great courage” during the false investigation, calling the results of the report “incredible but very sad.”
Wisconsin Democrats dismissed the report entirely back upon its release in March, with Attorney General Kaul shaming the report as “an attack on our democracy.”
Election lies continue
The former president also mentioned at the rally his endorsements of former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark, candidate for Wisconsin’s third congressional district Derrick Van Orden and Adam Steen, the primary challenger running against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R - Rochester) in the 63rd Assembly district.
Steen is a long-shot challenger for the seat who, unlike Vos, unilaterally supports decertifying the results of the 2020 election. Trump endorsed Steen over Vos for this reason and other far-right views, including banning abortion and contraception.
Trump personally called out Vos while speaking for Steen at the rally, claiming “lots of people think he’s a Democrat.”
The former president also expressed his support of his “longtime friend” Sen. Ron Johnson, who he said was “tough, and smart and loves [Wisconsin] and this country.”
Johnson will most likely face Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in the general election for U.S. Senate this November after Barnes’ competitors suspended their campaigns and endorsed him last month.
Trump also spoke extensively in support of key GOP policy issues in Wisconsin, including passing stricter voter ID laws, banning racially sensitive education, eliminating LGBTQIA+ rhetoric from schools and banning trans women from competing in women’s sports.
“I would be the greatest women’s basketball coach in history,” the former president said. “I’d go to LeBron, despite the fact that I don’t like him, and ask him ‘have you ever thought about becoming a woman?’”
Trump also attributed Milwaukee’s homicide record in 2021 to Democrats, adding that safety is a concern in “about almost every major Democrat-run city in America.”
The former president hinted multiple times at his intentions to run for President in 2024 and further perpetuated false claims that he had won the 2020 election.
“We are like a third world country when it comes to elections … ballot drop boxes were obviously illegal in the 2020 election [in Wisconsin],” Trump asserted. “I ran twice, I won twice and I got more votes than any President ever and now we may just have to do it again.”
Trump’s claims of voter fraud in Wisconsin and other 2020 swing states are not supported by credible evidence.
Ian Wilder is a current features writer and former state politics reporter for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.