US President Donald Trump has kicked off his re-election campaign with a rally in Oklahoma where he launched a frontal attack on his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, describing him as a “helpless puppet” of the radical left.
Trump, 74, is pitted against former vice president and Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Biden, 77, in the November 3 presidential election.
As per the latest opinion polls, he is trailing behind Biden on an average by eight percentage points.
Trump, in his address to the thousands of his supporters at an indoor stadium in Oklahoma’s Tulsa city on Saturday, said: “Biden is a helpless puppet of the radical left. And he’s not radical left. I don’t think he knows what he is any more. But he’s controlled by the radical left”.
Addressing his first election rally after the coronavirus pandemic hit the country early this year, killing more than 119,000 Americans in a matter of few months and bringing the economy to a standstill, Trump alleged that the Biden campaign staff even donated a lot of money to bail out rioters, looters and arsonists who ravaged Minneapolis.
Minneapolis erupted into violence following the brutal custodial death of African-American George Floyd on May 25. The protests spread nationwide and turned violent in many places including Washington DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The president has accused radical left for the violence.
“The left is trying to do everything they can to stop us every hour of every day including violence, mayhem, look what happened tonight. But we will never submit to their threats and we will never let them destroy our nation,” Trump said.
In his speech that lasted for more than 100 minutes, Trump talked a lot on his favorite themes: fake news, energy dominance, appointing judges, supporting police and condemning protesters.
“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalise our history, desecrating beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control, we’re not conforming.
“That’s why we’re here actually. This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything we hold dear as Americans. They want to demolish our heritage so that they can impose their new oppressive regime in its place. They want to defund and dissolve our police departments. Think of that,” said the president.
Addressing the rally comprising thousands of his supporters, a majority of whom did not wear face masks or maintain social distancing, Trump called for a legislation that would punish burning American flags with one-year imprisonment.
“We ought to do it. We talk about freedom of speech… but that’s desecration,” he said.
His political opponents accused him of risking people’s health by holding such a big rally. Many said that parts of the arena were empty. As a precautionary measure, local police officials and campaign staff measured the temperature of everyone entering the arena. Six members of the campaign staff tested positive with COVID-19 before the rally.
There was brief interruption during his speech when he paused and called for doctors, as security guards went to the aid of a young man who appeared to have fainted. He was helped out by a security guard on either side.
“Thank you. These people, I mean some of the people are waiting for five days, especially at this location, right? You take your time,” Trump said.
Around 15 per cent of the city’s 400,000 residents are black, according to the US media report.
Outside the arena, a 62-year-old peaceful protester was arrested and dragged by security personnel while wearing a shirt that read “I can’t breathe.” Tulsa Police Department said that the protestor was removed at the request of the Trump campaign staff.