Trump says 'America is going to hell,' alludes to 2024 run for presidency at PA rally
WILKES-BARRE — Thousands were present at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday evening to see Republicans running for office in Pennsylvania and former President Donald J. Trump. The night marked Trump's first rally appearance since the FBI raid at Mar-A-Lago, during which the bureau seized dozens of boxes of documents, including folders labeled "top secret."
More than 130,000 viewers tuned in to a livestream of the event broadcasted on Rumble and YouTube. Present at the rally were Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Dan Cox, and the president of Johnson & Johnson.
A more mellow soundtrack played in the background throughout the night, including "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra and "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles.
Before Trump took the stage, the melancholy lyrics of "Memory" from the Broadway musical Cats rung through the arena, followed by the song "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People.
Trump himself walked out to "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood.
"Thank you very much, and hello Pennsylvania," Trump said before endorsing Doug Mastriano for governor and Dr. Mehmet Oz for Senate.
During his address, Trump made fun of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pushed his platform Truth Social, railed against the FBI, and perpetuated the false claim that the 2020 election was "stolen."
Read on for other highlights from the evening in Wilkes-Barre.
Story continues after gallery.
Trump zeroes in on Mar-A-Lago raid by FBI
"Our country is going to hell," Trump said, noting that the November election is a referendum on issues plaguing the country. Trump called President Joe Biden's recent speech in Philadelphia the most "divisive" ever given by a U.S. president.
Trump remarked that the red lighting behind Biden during his address made him appear "like the devil."
The former president focused on shootings and murder rates in Philadelphia and crime nationwide.
"Doug, you have to take care of this," Trump said. "Oz will send you the goods. You know what the goods are? More police officers."
Trump said that Democrats were waging war on democracy by criminalizing free speech, rigging elections, weaponizing the FBI and justice department — and raiding the homes of their political opponents.
"I wonder who that could be?" Trump said with a smirk.
The danger to democracy comes from the "radical left," Trump said, before promising that Republicans would "take back the country."
Chants of "USA" errupted.
Trump called the raid on his home Mar-a-Lago a "travesty of justice" that "made a mockery of America's laws, traditions and principles and the entire world was watching."
"We are a third world nation," he said, going on to call the DOJ and FBI "vicious monsters."
"They are trying to silence me, and they are trying to silence you," Trump continued. "We will not be silenced, right?"
"The evil and malice of this demented persecution of you and me, should be obvious to all," Trump said before bringing up the controversy regarding Hilary Clinton's private email server that occurred in 2016.
A chorus of "lock her up" then followed.
Trump threatened "backlash" after what he perceived as an "egregious breach of the law."
"We have no choice, we are trying to save our country," he said.
Trump says he won 2020 election and 'will just have to do it again'
Trump perpetuated the Big Lie as he went on to say that Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should "be ashamed of themselves," and "scorned" for voting to certify the 2020 election results.
"Republicans need to get stronger and fast," Trump said. He pointed to Mastriano, who "fought like very few people fought." Mastriano was present at the Jan. 6 rally that later ended in the riot at the Capitol. Trump followed by calling Shapiro a lightweight.
Trump expressed frustration with the US's funding of Ukraine, which elicited boos from the crowd. "Now wait a minute," Trump said, going on to say Russia wouldn't have invaded Ukraine if he were still in office.
Trump said he won the presidency twice.
"We got 10 million more votes than Obama got. They say Obama is so handsome." Trump said.
"We just have to do it again," Trump shouted, and the crowd erupted in cheers. "But first we have to win a historic victory for Republicans this November."
Later on, Trump said he would have to "take back our White House."
He vowed to hold "China accountable" for the COVID pandemic, defend the Second Amendment, and uphold the "Judeo-Christian values of our nation's founding." Trump continued: "We will restore patriotic education... teach children to honor our history, respect our great American flag,"
"Our MAGA movement is the greatest in our country's history," he said. "This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you. This is your home, this is your heritage, and American liberty is your great given right."
"Pennsylvania's where our founding fathers declared our independence... where our union was saved in Gettysburg... the greatest nation in the history of the world."
"Now we are a nation in decline," Trump said as the sound of thunder introduced a dramatic new soundtrack. "We are a nation that is failing."
Trump blasted "fake news" and called the media "the enemy of the people."
"We are not going to let this continue." Trump again reiterated his view that the election was stolen.
"With the help of everyone here today, and the help of citizens across our land. We will make America powerful again, we will make America powerful again. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again," he said.
Trump calls President of China 'King', calls for death penalty for drug dealers
Trump called foreign leaders like President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China "smart," referring to Jinping's decree of being "president for life."
"I call him 'King,'" Trump said. Trump went on to lament the spread of fentanyl in China, saying that America should execute drug dealers.
He called on Democrats and Republicans to institute the death penalty for drug dealers as soon as possible. Trump urged Americans to give back respect to police, and that law enforcement was "under seige."
"What they do to police officers," Trump lamented. "There's always gonna be a few bad apples."
Trump endorses Dr. Oz, Mastriano, Bognet
Trump said Fetterman was one of the most "far-left freakshows" he had ever seen. And said he thought Conor Lamb, a Democratic Congressman who lost to Fetterman in the Senate primary, was a decent politician. "I like Conor Lamb."
Trump made fun of Fetterman's outfits, saying the candidate for Senate dressed like a "teenager getting high in his parent's basement." He went on to call him a "defund the police Marxist" who wanted to release prisoners.
Trump introduced Oz as someone who would fight for Pennsylvania, and invited him to the stage a second time.
"Is the country headed in the right direction?" Oz said after taking the stage. "If your friends say 'yes', they should not be driving."
Trump made fun of Shapiro's height before backpedaling, saying "you cannot tell height or weight jokes" in this day and age.
Trump said while he supports certain abortion exceptions, Shapiro was a supporter of "on demand" abortions "right through the ninth month" and "after the baby is born."
Federal law outlawed partial birth abortions in 2003, and the Supreme Court upheld that ban in 2007.
Trump soon invited Mastriano back to the stage.
"Day 1 we are out of the green house gas initiative, we are gonna dig and drill like there's no tomorrow." Mastriano said, before going on to announce support for voter ID, and making fun of Shapiro's stance on transgender Americans.
Mastriano referenced Trump's presence during 9/11 in New York City, and cited the crash of Flight 93 in Somerset County.
"What did they say on that flight? Pennsylvania let's roll."
Mastriano says opponents 'need to go'
Doug Mastriano was met with cheers of "Mastriano" and "Let's go Brandon" as he took the stage.
"Any free people in the house?" Mastriano asked the crowd, stating that the "people are pissed" after "Old 'sleepy Joe' crawled out of his hole without the bunny rabbit," at his speech Thursday at Independence Hall.
Mastriano said his opponent Josh Shapiro, President Joe Biden and current Pa. Governor Tom Wolf are all "cut of the same cloth."
According to FiveThirtyEight, Shapiro leads Mastriano in the race for governor by more than 7 points.
"They all need to go," he said. Mastriano pointed to Daniel Lewis Cox in the crowd, calling him the next governor of Maryland. Like Mastriano, Cox holds far-right views. Cox represents the 4th District of the Maryland House of Delegates.
"Love you brother," Mastriano said. "Could you imagine how fantastic it's gonna be, with 'Governor Cox' in Maryland and 'Governor Mastriano' in Pennsylvania?"
Oz calls Fetterman 'poster child' of far-left Democrats
Dr. Mehmet Oz jumped right into his address at the Rally to Save America on Saturday with a story about his parents' immigration to the United States.
"They came legally," Oz stressed, emphasizing that they came to pursue the American dream.
"We all believe in the American dream," Oz continued. "And then we've been seeing some things of late that make us a little worried."
For Oz, the wakeup call happened during COVID, he said.
"You know what happens when you mix politics and medicine? Politics." Oz said, accusing the government of overreach and the weaponization of science.
The crowd remained silent as Oz went into his criticisms of the Green New Deal, "which could not happen on this timeline." Oz questioned the opposition's stances on things like gender identity.
Oz called his opponent for Senate, John Fetterman, "the poster child for the far-left part of the Democratic party," eliciting a chorus of "boos" from the audience.
Oz remarked on Fetterman's health as a reason that Fetterman has not agreed to debate him.
"I'm sympathetic as a doctor," Oz said, before noting that he has reached out to Fetterman's staff to "answer questions," to no avail.
Oz then launched into a "pretend debate" with Fetterman, starting with questions on the releasing of prisoners, drug legalization and sanctuary cities.
"He'd probably say 'it sounded good on Twitter,'" Oz said.
Oz went on to reference high crime rates in Philadelphia, citing his endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police.
"Our nation needs to be brave, I need you to say what you see," Oz said. "The only thing that Biden has 'built back better' is the Republican Party."
Fetterman released a statement in an email on Saturday: "More and more lies from Trump and Dr. Oz; another day, but it's the same crap from these two desperate and sad dudes.”
Bognet says Biden and Cartwright have 'sold their souls'
District 8 challenger Jim Bognet asked the crowd Saturday if they were "ready to win Congress and save America?" after walking out to the podium to a short clip from the song "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent.
Bognet introduced himself as a candidate for Congress in the "greatest place in the world, northeast Pennsylvania," before referencing his upbringing in Hazleton, "about 20 minutes down the road" from Wilkes-Barre.
"My grandfather came here 100 years ago from Italy," Bognet explained, noting that when his grandfather first came through Ellis Island his name was Vincenzo Bucchichio. "When he left Ellis Island, his name was Jim Bognet, my name" Bognet said.
"Only in America," Bognet said, noting that his grandfather was a hardworking coal miner "like so many of our grandparents were."
"In 66 days, his grandson is going to be elected to U.S. Congress," Bognet said.
Bognet said that life has been difficult for northeast Pennsylvanians over the past year, from "forced masking" to COVID lockdowns, "the open border, and skyrocketing price of gas."
"Sometimes it feels like our very way of life is under attack," Bognet said. "In the 20 months that Biden has been president, he's put America in the ditch."
Bognet blasted his opponent Matt Cartwright: "Joe Biden owns Matt Cartwright's vote."
"Joe Biden and Matt Cartwright don't represent our values in northeast Pennsylvania." He said.
Bognet said that it appeared as though northeast Pa. was the political center of the universe, and that Biden and Cartwright "came up here for once" Tuesday as part of their "insult America tour," claiming that Biden was in town to "save Cartwright's job."
Referencing Biden's address from Philadelphia Thursday, Bognet said the president "insulted us, demeaned us, belittled us," from the country's cradle of democracy. He called the address "shameful and disgusting."
"People resort to name calling when they're losing the argument, and Joe Biden and Matt Cartwright are losing the argument in northeast Pennsylvania."
After promising to drill for oil and gas in Pennsylvania, Bognet shifted gears to transgender Americans and abortion. Bognet said Biden was afraid to speak his mind about certain policies, because of politicians like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Nancy Pelosi and Cartwright.
"Joe Biden and Cartwright lied to us to get elected," Bognet said, saying that the duo promised to govern as moderates, but are instead acting as liberals. "Biden and Cartwright have lost their minds and sold their souls," Bognet stated, after promising to drain the swamp in Washington.
Dan Meuser says it's time to 'wake up and woke down.'
Dan Meuser took the stage Saturday evening, expressing how good it felt to "welcome back President Trump to MAGA country." Meuser represents District 9, which includes parts of northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos.
"Man I love this." Meuser said, noting that he heard there were "a few patriots in the crowd tonight."
"A patriot always puts America first," Meuser continued, noting that Biden and Democrats have created crises in Afghanistan, the southern borders, China, COVID, the deficit and the energy crisis before shouting "Let's go Brandon."
"Fellow Americans, we have fallen way off course," he said, lamenting the loss of a "strong America".
"Our southern border is open, and illegals are pouring through, as are illegal drugs," Meuser said. "The situation is an unmitigated disaster created by the Biden administration and Biden Democrats."
Meuser then shared a message to "Biden Democrats": "Americans are hurting, people are hurting, and it's time to wake up and woke down."
"Today we are divided, not united... Biden Democrats make it worse with their words, threats and policies." Meuser said, before calling for a stronger America.
"The world needs a stronger America, now more than ever," He said before urging attendees to vote in November for Jim Bognet so that "we could take the gave from Nancy Pelosi once and for all."
He also asked "humbly that those in the ninth district reelect me, Dan Meuser, your favorite congressman."
Meuser said that Pennsylvania should always be mentioned in line with "Gov. DeSantis' Florida" and "Gov. Abbott's Texas."
"Let's keep our faith, be God fearing, and fight like patriots this election year," Meuser said. "Our freedom is truly on the line." He then urged Americans to "make America great again, again" in 2024.
Roe v. Wade overturned:Communities in Poconos contend with lack of abortion access
Marjorie Taylor Greene blasts Pelosi, Fauci and Fetterman
Surprise guest Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of Congress from Georgia, called for tighter spending in Washington, stronger borders and a defunding of the "military vaccine mandate" from the stage in northeastern Pennsylvania Saturday.
"Joe Biden has declared all of you extremists," Greene stated to an enthusiastic crowd. "Joe Biden has declared that half of this country are enemies of the state."
"Because of Joe Biden and the Democrats, Merrick Garland, and the FBI, Nancy Pelosi, we're gonna fire her for sure." Greene continued, referencing stories shared from earlier speakers.
Greene continued: "I saw those men, and I saw those conditions" referencing men who were imprisoned for their actions during the Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021. "I sang the National Anthem with them every night at 9 p.m."
"You wanna know what else Pennsylvania?" Greene thundered. "President Trump won the 2020 election."
Multiple audits have proven that the results of the 2020 election were legitimate.
Greene went on to lambast green energy initiatives in Pa. such as windmills and electric vehicles, while touting Trump's records with anthracite and steel in the Keystone state.
"They want to tell you what time of day you can charge (the EVs)," Greene said. "Because there's not enough electricity."
"We don't want these 'America last' policies do we Pennsylvania?" she asked. "You know it's bad enough Joe Biden has ripped our border wide open, allowing an invasion at the southern border that's bringing in people and drugs and things we don't even know about — fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high rate, and there's no political party on that one.
"There's no skin color, there's no economic level. Fentanyl does not discriminate."
A member of the crowd then shouted "Build the wall!" To which Green responded: "Yes, build the wall, secure the border." The arena erupted in cheers.
Greene went on to promise that Republicans would take back the House.
"We are going to fire Nancy Pelosi," Greene said again, adding that she "never liked her anyways." Greene went on to accuse Pelosi's husband of having an alcohol problem.
Greene quickly shifted focus to Dr. Anthony Fauci, stating that Pennsylvania suffered under COVID lockdowns.
"Dr. Fauci says he's going to retire..." she said. "I think that man belongs in jail."
Greene didn't stop there, directing focus to the "upper echelons" of the Department of Justice and FBI, stating that they did not "deserve a paycheck" after violating Trump's rights by conducting the recent raid on Mar-a-Lago.
"That should have never happened. That's unconstitutional. They violated our president's rights," Greene said. "And then they stole his passport, stole his property. Disrespected our former first lady and their entire family.
"This is the type of America all of us had nightmares about, and I can't believe it's happening," she continued. "We have to hold them accountable."
Greene promised oversight and investigation from Republicans, but said it wasn't enough for her: "I want accountability," she said. She then called for the "D.C. jail" to be "shut down."
Biden recently condemned attacks on the FBI after the Mar-a-Lago raid. "It's sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI," he said during his Tuesday remarks at Wilkes University.
Greene went on to urge turnout at the polls. "This time, it's freedom vs. tyranny on the ballot, and I expect you to show up at the polls," Greene expressed support for Doug Mastriano for Pa. governor after blasting John Fetterman as a "Bernie Sanders Socialist." Fetterman is running for Senate.
"God bless you, Pennsylvania," she shouted before leaving the stage.
Trump supporters arrive early in Wilkes-Barre
Supporters lined up early Saturday for a chance to see former President Donald J. Trump take the stage at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
By around 2:30 p.m., Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department posted that the parking lot at Mohegan Sun was at capacity, requesting that visitors seek alternate parking at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
"Please exercise caution driving on Mundy Street as there will likely be an increase of pedestrian traffic crossing the roadway," the Facebook post reads.
Trump's visit to northeast Pennsylvania comes just days after President Joe Biden paid a visit to Wilkes University, less than 3 miles away.
On Tuesday, Biden took a strong stance against the perceived threat of "MAGA Republicans," criticizing GOP officials who have not denounced the pro-Trump rioters who breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Referencing Trump's “Make America Great Again” slogan, Biden said, “Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: Don't tell me you support the law enforcement if you won't condemn what happened on the 6th."
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden said before an audience of hundreds at a second Pennsylvania stop in Philadelphia Thursday, raising his voice over pro-Trump hecklers outside the building where the nation’s founding was debated. He said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020 but added, "There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” using the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his followers marks a sharp recent turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his inaugural address.
Asked on Friday if he considered all Trump supporters a threat to the country, Biden said, “I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country.”
The president will make another stop in Pennsylvania: Biden is expected to travel to Pittsburgh on Monday to attend a Labor Day parade.
Trump’s Save America PAC describes the Wilkes-Barre rally as “a continuation of President Trump’s unprecedented effort to advance the MAGA agenda by energizing voters and highlighting America First candidates and causes.”
Saturday's rally marked Trump's first since the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.