Trump returns to campaigning as deadline to name running mate nears, Biden rejects calls to withdraw

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport ahead of the first Presidential Debate on Thursday, June 27, 2024. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

After largely ceding the spotlight to the mounting turmoil surrounding President Joe Biden ‘s campaign in the wake of their debate, former President Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail Tuesday after days of laying low, golfing and letting Democratic infighting play out in public.

Trump is set to rally his voters at one of his Miami-area golf courses as he nears a deadline to announce his running mate. But he appears in no rush as much of the attention is still centered on questions about Biden’s ability to govern for another four-year term. Some Democrats have started calling for Biden to step down as their presumptive nominee following his dismal debate performance last month.

Both Biden, 81, and Trump, 78, are at least two decades older than most American presidents have been, according to the Pew Research Center, which said the median age for all U.S. presidents on their first inauguration is 55 years old. But that has not stopped Trump from arguing he is stronger than Biden, who repeatedly stumbled, paused and could not complete sentences at times during the June 27 debate. Trump was criticized by Democrats for making false statements during the debate about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and suggesting immigrants entering the U.S. illegally were taking so-called “Black jobs” and “Hispanic jobs.”

In an interview Monday with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, Trump said he thought Biden “might very well stay in” the race. “Nobody to wants to give that up that way,” Trump added. “He is going to feel badly about himself for a long time. It’s hard to give it up that way, the way where they’re trying to force him out.”

In the Miami suburb of Doral, Trump is expected to underscore his strong support in a former battleground state that has now shifted toward the GOP. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami native and one of the contenders for the vice presidential post, was among the Florida politicians who spoke at the event.

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is seen as a potential running mate who could help Trump as he tries to secure support from Hispanic Americans, a point the senator emphasized in his remarks as he switched several times in his remarks to Spanish.

The senator did not openly acknowledge any of the speculation about him joining Trump as a running mate. He instead skewered not only Biden, whom he called “the figurehead of a left-wing government, shadow government,” but Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he would need to debate head-on if he’s chosen for Trump’s ticket.

Rubio referred to Harris not by name at first but called her Biden’s “replacement” and “a real-life, verified left-winger.” At another point in his remarks, he mocked the way Harris laughs.

He notably seemed to insert himself into Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” slogan by saying: “Together, we’re not just going to make it great again. We elect this man as president, we will make together America greater than it has ever been.”

Kevin Cabrera, a Miami-Dade County commissioner who was Florida state director for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, spoke at the rally, saying ahead of the event that it would be an “overwhelming show of unity.”

“The rally will display our unified front, showcasing a stark contrast to the Democrats, who are lost and fighting with each other over Biden’s health and ability to continue,” Cabrera said.

One attendee, 28-year-old Austin Stiglin, said he traveled from northern Florida to participate in his first Trump rally. He was wearing a star-patterned navy blue jacket and red pants and said he was “tired of the left telling him to vote left just because I am gay.”

“I have a lot more to say than just my sexual orientation,” Stiglin said. “I would like to vote for policies that support the United States.”

The presumptive GOP nominee is expected in his remarks to touch on Biden’s handling of immigration and the economy, highlighting the rise in home prices and goods. Trump will also talk about how Florida is affected by the increasing arrivals of immigrants as the final destination for many people illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The leadership crisis among Democrats has perhaps given Trump a reason to wait for his VP announcement so as to not draw attention away from Biden’s woes. Senior advisers and key allies say they still don’t know whom Trump will choose as his running mate, and many believe the choice is still in flux.

Speaking on MSNBC Monday, Biden criticized Trump for not having held events since the debate and suggested he had been “riding around in his golf cart.”