Donald Trump has declared it is “crunch time” for the upcoming election as he zeroed in on Mid West battleground states with a tough law and order message to counter former vice president Joe Biden’s show at the Democrats’ national convention.
In Mankato, Minnesota, the president stepped up his rhetoric against Mr Biden, calling him a “puppet of left-wing extremists trying to erase our borders, eliminate our police, indoctrinate our children, vilify our heroes, take away our energy”.
Addressing a crowd of several hundred supporters outside an aircraft hangar, he alleged that a Biden victory would “replace American freedom with left-wing fascism”.
“Fascists. They are fascists,” Mr Trump continued. “Some of them, not all of them, but some of them. But they’re getting closer and closer. We have to win this election. But the proud people of Minnesota will not let this happen.”
Earlier, he stopped in Minneapolis to hold an event with small business owners whose stores were damaged during violent protests and riots after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in May in police custody.
“I’m here to help you. We will bring back law and order to your community. We will bring it back and we will bring it back immediately,” he told supporters on the airport tarmac.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz said the White House had been interested in Mr Trump visiting a makeshift memorial in Minneapolis at the site of Mr Floyd’s fatal encounter with police on Memorial Day.
“I spent this weekend trying to tell the White House why it was a really bad idea to have President Trump go down and stand at the George Floyd memorial and use (it) as a backdrop for his campaign and ignite the pain and the anguish that we’re feeling in Minnesota,” the governor said.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows disputed Mr Walz’s statement, saying: “Governor Walz never reached out to me, nor the president, nor the campaign, so perhaps he misspoke. We’ve communicated before, so he has our contact information.”
On the tarmac in Minneapolis, Trump addressed about 150 supporters — half of them wearing masks — who chanted “Four More Years”.