Trump Insults Prosecutor at Jersey Shore Rally Filled with Vulgar Jabs

Bryan Anselm for The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s rally Saturday in Wildwood, N.J., was a campaign detour into a blue state.

WILDWOOD, N.J. – Donald Trump on Saturday insulted the prosecutor who has charged him in his ongoing New York criminal trial, speaking at a large rally on the Jersey Shore filled with personal attacks, coarse language and vulgar expressions from the former president and his supporters.

The presumptive Republican nominee called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “fat Alvin.” He described New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over his trial, as “highly conflicted.” And he reprised his accusations that both are “doing the bidding” of President Biden, even though there is no evidence they have coordinated with Biden or his administration.

The attacks were the latest show of defiance against judges and prosecutors from a candidate who is facing 88 criminal charges across four indictments. They were part of a flurry of broadsides or baseless claims that Trump and his backers launched during a beachside rally that marked a return to the campaign trail at the end of another week when Trump spent much of his time in a courtroom.

He said he was indicted on “bulls—” prompting some in the crowd to repeat “bulls—” in response. He attacked former New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie, winking at the audience, “you cannot call him a fat pig.”

As Trump berated the Biden administration, he asked the crowd: “Everything they touch, turns to what?”

“S—!” the crowd responded.

“You can’t use the word s—,” Trump said, to laughs.

At another point, as Trump complained about the news media, one rallygoer turned to the workspace for journalists, yelling: “You guys suck. F— fake news. Go f— yourselves.”

Thousands attended the event on a chilly evening, which marked a blue state detour for a candidate who is trying to balance his four-day-a-week trial and running for president with about six months left until the election. The setting was a change of scenery from a typical Trump rally.

But it included many of the same polarizing features of such a gathering that critics have voiced alarm over, including attacks on undocumented immigrants, whom he accused of staging an “invasion” as he vowed to “stop the plunder, rape, slaughter and destruction of the American suburbs, cities and towns.” He sharply derided his domestic critics and opponents, claiming “the enemies from within are more dangerous to me than the enemies on the outside” of the country. He praised the six Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. And he engaged in meandering asides, including about conversations he has had with celebrities or world leaders.

Trump at one point told the crowd: “Let’s talk about hot dogs, I just had one actually,” before he went on to discuss inflation.

While Trump has spent the past week angrily complaining about his trial, he appeared to bask in the attention from his supporters on Saturday. He spoke surrounded by a roller coaster and Ferris wheel, complimenting his own remarks as a “good speech” and telling the crowd: “Do I feel comfortable with you? I love you.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who has been discussed as a potential vice-presidential candidate, spoke at the rally before Trump took the stage.

Supporters lined up early in the day, standing in the sand, some wearing red hats and chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” a term used by some on the right to reference a profane attack on Biden. Many sat in white chairs on the sand, while others farther back brought beach blankets.

The stores along the boardwalk in this predominantly White New Jersey shore town advertised Trump merchandise for those walking toward the rally. One woman working at a store on the boardwalk wore a blue sweatshirt that said “TRUMP STRONG” with red, white and blue rhinestone hoops to match. Another attendee wore a white sweatshirt she bought that said: “This Jersey girl loves Trump, get over it.”

Not since George H.W. Bush in 1988 has a Republican presidential candidate won New Jersey, and nonpartisan analysts regard it as a safe hold for Biden this fall. Yet Cape May County, which includes Wildwood, has voted Republican in every presidential race going back to 2000. Trump performed better in Wildwood in 2016, winning the city by 35 points compared with eight in 2020. He predicted Saturday that he would “win the state of New Jersey.”

Trump last held a rally in Wildwood in January 2020, shortly after Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents the area, switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. Trump’s message then was similar to what it was Saturday. At that time, the Senate was holding Trump’s first impeachment trial and he said that “Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts.”

Trump advisers said they wanted to hold a rally in Wildwood in part because the South Jersey and Jersey Shore media market overlaps with Philadelphia’s, allowing the campaign to reach voters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. One adviser also noted New Jersey’s proximity to New York, where the campaign is also considering holding a rally.

“That part of the state is very similar demographically to what you would see in other battleground states that have shifted,” said Mike DuHaime, a New Jersey native and longtime Republican strategist.

Some Trump supporters attending the rally said they were paying some attention to the New York trial, but not following it closely. They echoed some of Trump’s claims about the case, which centers on allegations of falsifying business records related to his repayment of attorney Michael Cohen for hush money to an adult-film actress.

Janet Spica, 64, called the trial a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and said she receives news about the trial through “either word of mouth or on the internet,” with many of her friends on Facebook following it more closely.

Liz Crescibene, 55, who drove three hours to see Trump for the third time, said she’s not watching the trial closely “because it’s a witch hunt.”

“How many trials can we have against Trump?” she asked. “They’re doing everything in their power because they want to get this man locked up. For what? I don’t know. I’m still waiting to see the evidence.”