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On a day off from his hush money trial, Trump campaigns in 2 swing states

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On Wednesdays, former President Donald Trump's hush money trial in Manhattan goes into recess. That's the one week day when he can campaign.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yesterday, he devoted that free time to swing states. He held an afternoon rally in Wisconsin and an evening rally in Central Michigan.

INSKEEP: And NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben was at the Michigan rally. Danielle, good morning.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so what are you hearing from the former president?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, a lot of his speeches yesterday were the standard Trump fare that is nevertheless still shocking. He is very much still spreading the lie, saying that he won in 2020. He also did a lot of casting undocumented immigrants as dangerous yesterday. But he did have a couple newer notes he hit on. One is Gaza. In his Wisconsin speech, he addressed some reports that the Biden administration is considering allowing some displaced Palestinians into the U.S. as refugees. Now, Trump didn't exactly cast it that way. He turned it into a string of falsehoods. He told the crowd that Biden is allowing those people in already. And he casts those Gazans as threats to the rallygoers. As Trump put it, Biden is creating the conditions for another October 7 here in the U.S.

INSKEEP: I notice he's also complaining that he can't campaign as much as he would like, given that he's in court so many days, which is true. So how is he focusing when he can campaign?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, you did see one new focus yesterday. This is a focus on a program called Protect the Vote. It's something that the Trump campaign and the RNC announced late last month. The goal is to get a massive force of poll watchers, of people to go out and watch poll workers, letting people in line in to vote and also counting ballots just to make sure that everything goes correctly in the Trump and RNC campaign's eyes. Now, they were really pushing this yesterday. There was Pete Hoekstra, the head of the Michigan GOP - went ahead of Trump with his own speech about this. Trump mentioned it. There were signs up on every Porta John, people with clipboards signing up volunteers in line.

INSKEEP: OK.

KURTZLEBEN: So this is really a new big Republican push.

INSKEEP: So that's what he wants to focus on. Democrats would like the focus to be on something else - abortion, which is in the news once again this week out of Arizona and elsewhere. How is he addressing what Republicans do see as one of his weaknesses?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, he's addressing it really by being very nonspecific. In both speeches, he reiterated what he seems to have settled on as his line on abortion, that Roe allowed abortion to be left to the states, which are just deciding what they want to do on their own. And here he was in Michigan talking about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: The votes are coming up now in certain cases and it's all starting to work out, and it's going to ultimately bring our country together. It gets the vote down to the people.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, in that clip and also in the speeches writ large, he didn't bring up any specific states or instances. He didn't mention any policies he likes or doesn't like. And that's just what he does on abortion right now. It really allows him to just not take a position and to just say states can do what they want. Now, Democrats smell weakness here. They put up billboards in Wisconsin and Michigan near these rally sites yesterday, attacking Trump on abortion, and you can bet that they'll be doing that a lot more.

INSKEEP: NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben, with the sounds and sights at a Trump rally. Thanks so much.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.