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Trump will be in Arizona on Thursday for 1st public campaign event since felony convictions

Former President Donald Trump will stump Thursday in Phoenix, his first public campaign event since a New York jury convicted him on 34 felony counts.

Arizona has been at the center of Trump’s debunked stolen election claims. He lost the state narrowly. Attorney General Kris Mayes has brought charges against 11 Arizona Republicans and seven Trump aides and advisors, accusing them of conspiracy to overturn the result.

Arizona is one of the battlegrounds that could decide the 2024 contest, along with Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump also has a rally scheduled for Sunday in Las Vegas.

Biden won Arizona in 2020 by 10,457 votes, a margin of 0.3%.

Polls over the last month show a tight race, with Trump leading by anywhere from 1 percentage point to 6, according to RealClearPolitics tracking.

Biden last visited Arizona in March. He made a campaign stop at El Portal restaurant in Phoenix and touted an expansion of U.S. chip manufacturing at an Intel plant in Chandler.

Trump’s seven-week trial in New York hampered his ability to travel the country.

He scrapped an appearance on short notice at an Arizona Republican Party fundraiser in late January after a recording surfaced indicating the state party chair tried to bribe Kari Lake not to run for the Senate.

Thursday’s event, hosted by Charlie Kirk-affiliated conservative group Turning Point Action and its political action committee, will be Trump’s first campaign visit to the state since October 2022.

Chuck Coughlin, founder of political consultancy firm HighGround, said Trump’s close ties with Turning Point explain his choice to hold his first post-trial rally in Arizona. “Trump has a lot of confidence in their ability to put together a picture-perfect rally. …It’s a vote of confidence on the campaign’s part to say to these guys, ‘Hey, we know we got to come out to Arizona, so go put on a show for us.’”

Coughlin predicted Trump’s main talking points will revolve around the New York trial as well as slamming President Joe Biden on border policy. “He’s going to say the convictions were corrupt. It was a kangaroo court. … He’ll talk about the border. A lot.

“He’ll talk about the Trump mantra about Corrupt D.C. and taking it back from the special interests, the Deep State, and I think those are the things that he’ll run with.”

Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson James Martin, in a written statement, mocked Trump for having trouble scheduling an appearance in Arizona, given how critical the state is.

“After months of canceling visits to Arizona, Trump is coming back to the state to campaign alongside Charlie Kirk, an extremist who paid for January 6 insurrectionists to travel to the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results,” he said.

Turning Point Action took part in the huge rally Trump held at the Ellipse shortly before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Kirk, in a statement from the Trump campaign announcing the event Thursday, called the former president “a force of nature the left fears more than any other.”

He alluded to last week’s verdict in New York, which made Trump the first former president convicted of a crime. The charges involved falsified business records and hush money payments made to an adult film actress to cover up a sex scandal in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

“They know Joe Biden can’t beat him in a fair fight, so they’ve disgracefully weaponized the justice system. But those attacks are failing. Arizonans see the true threat to democracy, and Trump’s movement is at record levels,” Kirk said.

The Phoenix event will be town hall style with Trump taking questions from the audience “with authenticity, strength and compassion for the plight facing everyday people under Joe Biden’s failing policies, is exactly the contrast we are all hungry to see,” Kirk said. “We know the world will be watching.”

Trump, calling it a “rigged, disgraceful trial” shortly after the verdict Thursday, has sought to use the prosecution to mobilize supporters: “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5, by the people, and they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here,” he said.

The Phoenix event will begin at 2 p.m. at Dream City Church, 13613 N. Cave Creek Road.

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