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Trump superfans dream of a run once more, and of JFK Jr. on the ticket

If Kallatsa was nervous about sounding too conspiratorial, he shouldn’t have been. He was not alone amongst the crowd in believing that JFK Jr. isn’t solely nonetheless alive however can also be a secret Trump supporter embedded far in the “deep state.” One attendee was noticed sporting a pink shirt with the faces of Trump, Kennedy and Kennedy Jr. in the crowd. Michael Protzman, the QAnon influencer who organized the occasion final year in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza the place he and others additionally believed John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. would reappear from the lifeless, was noticed in the rally stands.

Elsewhere have been people in hats that learn “Trump Won” and buttons with “Q.” Figures from fringe QAnon on-line teams, like Jim and Ron Watkins, shared their go to to the rally with on-line followers. And conservative activist Ali Alexander — who helped set up final year’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, which has led to numerous arrests and fears about the erosion of American democracy — was given precedence entry to the occasion.

One of the introductory audio system, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who represents the district that features Florence, invoked a “storm coming” — a phrase utilized by QAnon — in his speech. Another speaker was Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who’s operating to be Arizona’s secretary of state, has been linked to QAnon and has reportedly mentioned conspiracies about a community of elected officers concerned in a community of pedophilia. Both have been endorsed by Trump.

Trump has at all times had one foot firmly in the camp with conspiracists on the proper, beginning together with his promotion of birtherism throughout the Obama years. Having been ousted from energy, he has continued to undertake and amplify this world and its views, successfully solidifying it as the base of the Republican Party. Figures as soon as relegated to corners of the web and the fringes of the social gathering have been welcomed with open arms at Trump rallies and discovered some of their theories shared by the former president himself.

Up on stage Saturday evening, Trump pushed a right-wing conspiracy suggesting that some of the individuals who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 have been really FBI informants.

“Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol complex on January 6 were FBI confidential informants agents or otherwise working directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government? People want to hear this,” Trump mentioned.

Days earlier, the congressional committee investigating the capital assaults mentioned it had interviewed Ray Epps, the Arizona man central to the idea that the FBI was secretly concerned in the riots. Epps, the choose committee mentioned, had informed investigators “that he was not employed by, working with or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan. 5 or 6 or at any other time, and that he has never been an informant for the F.B.I. or any other law enforcement agency.”

But that didn’t cease the former president, who, following the footsteps of allies like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), in addition to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, steered Epps was half of a “false flag” operation. “How about the one guy, ‘Go in, get in there everybody.’ Epps,” Trump declared.

It was one of a number of strains from Trump by which he requested his followers to dismiss the proof in entrance of them. Elsewhere, he continued to argue that his election loss was the consequence of an elaborate effort to cheat by Democrats.

“Why aren’t they investigating November 3, a rigged and stolen election?” Trump mentioned to a cheering crowd that jumped to its toes. “Why aren’t they looking at that, and there’s massive evidence that shows exactly what I’m talking about.”

Trump additionally mentioned he deliberate to deal with “dishonesty” from Democrats and the media surrounding the Capitol riots, together with his false declare that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked the National Guard from going to the Capitol to cease the riots on Jan. 6. For followers, the feedback didn’t increase eyebrows — they drew applause.

“Why don’t they talk about the guy that killed that girl Ashli Babbitt?” mentioned Cece Fager of Mesa, Ariz., referencing the Jan. 6 protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer as she and others tried to interrupt down a door that led to the House Speaker’s Lobby. “It’s all a cover-up. Our country is so divided, it’s sad.”

Thousands had come out on a chilly, windy evening an hour south of Phoenix to dusty desert fairgrounds to see and hear the former president. Decked out in pink, white and blue Trump gear or sporting T-shirts with, let’s assume, colourful phrases for Biden, his supporters danced to his MAGA rally playlist, took selfies with each other and high-fived strangers as they walked previous.

And as the warm-up acts and Trump spoke, they joined collectively in refrain to chant “Let’s Go Brandon,” a widespread GOP slogan that offers the center finger to Biden, and “Lock him up,” aimed toward Anthony Fauci, the infectious illness knowledgeable turned conservative enemy.

Few, if any, masks have been worn. Nor was there a lot concern performed to the pandemic ripping via the nation (Trump, for his half, didn’t encourage followers to get Covid booster photographs, as he had executed in latest appearances, however as an alternative railed towards vaccine mandates). They have been completely happy to be in a crowd of like-minded folks, but in addition offended — at Biden, at Democrats, at the media for, amongst different issues, their portrayal of the Jan. 6 riots. After all, some of them had been there.

That included Diane Meade from La Verne, Calif., who mentioned she traveled 6.5 hours to Florence on Saturday evening as a result of she believes the 2020 election was stolen and desires to be on the “right side of history.” Meade mentioned she was at the Capitol the day of the riot, and since then has felt “persecuted.”

“People associate me with a terrorist group. I’m guilty by association,” mentioned Meade, who mentioned she didn’t enter the Capitol. “I went to peacefully protest. The people I met just love our country.”

As the rally got here to a shut, the fieriness of the festivities had change into dotted with anger. Terry Schultz, an Arizona snowbird from North Dakota, waited on the tailgate of a truck. His mates described the rally as “invigorating.” Schultz, nevertheless, appeared agitated by, as he defined, “all the corruption the Democrats pulled.” The election, he mentioned, was stolen. Trump was robbed.

“It was all a bunch of bullshit,” he mentioned.