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Trump, Pence in Arizona: Trump fans hit merchandise tables again on way out

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 7/23/2022 Arizona Republic

Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence returned to Arizona on Friday to boost rival Arizona Republican candidates for governor.

Trump headlined a rally in Prescott Valley that also featured his endorsed candidates Blake Masters for U.S. Senate and Kari Lake for governor.

Pence, a friend and ally of Gov. Doug Ducey, made appearances in Peoria and Tucson. He is backing Karrin Taylor Robson in the state's Aug. 2 GOP gubernatorial primary.

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Here is a recap of former President Trump and former Vice President Pence's campaign visits to Arizona.

Trump v. Pence, Lake v. Taylor Robson: What you need to know as GOP factions square off in Arizona

10:15 p.m.: Trump fans hit merchandise tables again on way out

When former President Donald Trump left the stage and people began streaming out of the arena in Prescott Valley, the most entrepreneurial merchandise vendors were ready and waiting for round two of their day’s sales.

Tables full of shirts, hats and flags lined one of the exits, lit up by phone flashlights as people bought their final souvenirs from the day as they made their way to the parking lot.

Justin Cole walked up to a merchandise table at a Trump rally in 2017 wanting to get involved and has been traveling with Trump and selling merchandise ever since.

He’s just one of a handful of tables hoping to capitalize on the last minutes of today’s rally. In his industry, you never quite know how business will go in any given day.

“You just never know but we really believe in it so we kind of just keep going with it,” Cole said.

— Lacey Latch

10 p.m.: Trump exits the stage in Prescott Valley 

Former President Donald Trump concluded his remarks at 9:39 p.m. at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Sam and Dave's 1966 hit "Hold On, I'm Comin'" played on the loudspeakers as the event ended.

— The Republic

9:40 p.m.: Trump makes get-out-the-vote pitch: ‘We need a landslide so big’    

Former President Donald Trump emphasized the high stakes of this year’s midterm elections as he tried to motivate his Arizona supporters to vote for Kari Lake for governor, Blake Masters for Senate and his other endorsed candidates.

“We need a landslide so big that the radical left cannot rig or steal even if they try,” Trump said, again riffing on his baseless and debunked claims of rampant election fraud in 2020.

“This is the year we’re going to take back the House. We’re going to take back the Senate. We’re going to take back America,” Trump said. “And, in 2024, most importantly, we’re going to take back our beautiful, magnificent White House.”

— Dan Nowicki

9:15 p.m.: Trump attacks Mark Kelly, heaps praise on Blake Masters

Former President Donald Trump leveled a fusillade of criticism at Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly as he rallied support for Blake Masters, his endorsed candidate in Arizona's five-way Aug. 2 Republican Senate primary election.

Trump attacked Kelly's record on immigration and the border and blamed him for "runaway inflation that's crushing Arizona families." 

"I know he's married to a very nice woman, but he's just not doing the job and Arizona is suffering because of it, so remember that. Remember that," Trump said. "This November, we're going to vote Mark Kelly out of office and we're going to replace him with America First champion Blake Masters."

Masters is "a real titan of the business and technology world," Trump said. "He gets it."  

And Masters will bring "exactly the kind of toughness, courage and intellectual firepower we need in the Senate to take our country to the next level," he said.

— Dan Nowicki

9:10 p.m.: Trump takes the stage in Prescott Valley

Shortly before 8 p.m., former President Donald Trump took the stage at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

He entered as Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." played.

— The Republic

7:55 p.m.: Former astronaut Mark Kelly 'disconnected' from life on Earth, Blake Masters says

Blake Masters, former President Donald Trump's choice for U.S. Senate in Arizona, turned Mark Kelly's NASA career into the butt of jokes as he ripped the incumbent Democratic senator.

Masters will take on Kelly, whom he called the "worst" senator, in the Nov. 8 election if Masters is the winner of the five-way Aug. 2 Republican primary for Arizona's seat.

Kelly is a retired space shuttle pilot.

Masters related his frustration listening to Kelly talk about his experience in orbit, looking down at Earth from the International Space Station, realizing humans are all in this together.

"I was like, 'Shut up, Mark, do your job!'" Masters said.

"Mark Kelly is completely disconnected from what life is like here on planet Earth," Masters said.

"Here on Earth," problems with inflation and illegal immigration are "out of control," Masters said.

Masters also added to the dogpile on fellow Republicans, whom he described as obstructing desired policies. "I am sick of those RINOs," he said, using the term of derision that conservatives often aim at moderate or liberal Republicans — "Republicans In Name Only."

— Ray Stern

7:25 p.m.: Arizona GOP leaders at Trump rally focus on 'election integrity'

Republican leaders at former President Donald Trump's rally in Prescott Valley highlighted the underlying issue of what Trump-supporting conservatives call the "election integrity" problem, namely the serious division it has caused among Republicans.

Trump and his advocates have engaged in an existential battle with other Republicans that is coming to a head with the Aug. 2 primary election.

Liz Kennedy, president of Prescott Valley Republican Women, said she was at the event to support two Trump-endorsed candidates: Mark Finchem, who's running for Arizona secretary of state in the primary against three other Republicans, and Blake Masters, who's in a five-way GOP race for U.S. Senate.

She mentioned that Yavapai County residents were concerned about potential problems in the upcoming election because of the recent resignations of County Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Elections Director Lynn Constabile. The women told the news media they were resigning because they were tired of the constant threats and harassment by Trump supporters. Kennedy said she didn't want to get into that. She fretted that election bills, including one that would have gotten rid of ballot boxes — killed by other GOP lawmakers — did not make it into law this year.

Finchem said it's a "crazy" time in politics where "people are willing to sell their soul to sell the status quo."

He criticized one of his fellow GOP candidates in the primary election, Beau Lane, telling The Arizona Republic he questioned whether Lane is a Republican or "just pretending."

Lane has previously said he believes Democratic President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and has defended Arizona's election system. 

"Is he a Democrat, or a spoiler?" Finchem said, also taking a dig at former Gov. Jan Brewer for supporting Lane in a political ad.

Kelli Ward, Arizona Republican Party chair, used her speech to urge the crowd to pick the right Republicans to vote for.

— Ray Stern

6:45 p.m.: Trump, Lake supporters say why they're fans

Nancy McGill, 61, woke at 5:30 a.m. Friday at her home in Tempe and headed to Prescott Valley without so much as a bite for breakfast.

She’s a volunteer for Kari Lake’s Republican gubernatorial campaign and served as an usher as a crowd of thousands filed into Findlay Toyota Center, where former President Donald Trump is headlining a rally.

“I’m feeling like I need to be a part of this to make it happen, McGill said. “The grassroots efforts are the strongest. It’s more important than all the money in the world is to have the people behind you.”

Lake had been on McGill's radar for years, and she felt seen when the longtime news anchor suddenly quit her job at Fox 10 Phoenix and criticized the state of journalism. But it was Trump’s endorsement that clinched her support.

“I feel that’s gold,” she said. “Anybody that Donald Trump endorses, he has vetted very well.”

Lake’s top opponent in the Aug. 2 GOP primary for governor, Karrin Taylor Robson, hosted a big name from the Trump administration at a rally Friday in Peoria. Speaking in front of roughly 350 people, Mike Pence lambasted Lake as a “convert” from the Democratic Party, bringing up her previous support of Democrats such as former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

McGill is wary of Robson. But if Robson were to prevail in the primary race, she’d have her vote.  

"Although I do think that she doesn’t line herself up to all of my conservative values, of course, I would,” McGill said. “These borders have got to be protected. I don’t think we’d stand a chance if we had a Democratic governor in place."

Luke Lollar, 19, was wearing a black shirt. At the center of it, a non-playable character silhouette, with dozens of vaccine-laden syringes sticking out of his face. At the forehead is a QR code. Emblazoned at the top, the message: “I hope my government will let me go outside today.”

But Lollar on Friday had been outside since 3 a.m. when he and his dad got in line outside the venue to make sure they’d get seats. He was coming off three hours of sleep and was there to see Trump, not any of the candidates the former president is promoting.

"He doesn’t care," Lollar said of Trump. "He just says what’s on his mind. He can’t be bought, he can’t be bribed.”

Blake Marnell is the "Wall Suit Man," known for the patterned orange-brown suit he wears to Trump rallies and the handlebar mustache he curls as he talks. His shirt is bright red, and in bold white reads: “Finish the Wall.” He’s been to dozens of star-studded Trump-centered rallies and seen countless Trump allies warm up the crowd before Trump speaks. Marnell, who lives in San Diego, was in Prescott Valley to see Trump again. He also wants to see gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. He can’t decide who he’s more excited about.

Lake is the only politician he’s even seen command a crowd like Trump. Earlier this year, he attended Trump's Florence rally, where Trump and Lake were in action. When Lake spoke, Marnell said even Trump looked stunned by the thunderous approval levied by a boisterous crowd. 

"She’s the only politician I’ve ever seen do that," Marnell said. 

Marnell left his home in Southern California at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and got into the Toyota Center parking lot just after 2 p.m. He hasn’t slept since, instead spending the last 24 hours engaging with voters and taking pictures with fans who recognize him from social media. And he’s got a seat, in the front-row center, 

"I tried to sleep, but I was so excited,” Marnell said. “It’s very fun for me to come to these rallies early because you get to talk to people who are like-minded politically that you might not get to meet somewhere else."

— Gregory Svirnovskiy


Video: Proxy battle between Trump and Pence heats up in Arizona (CBS News)

Proxy battle between Trump and Pence heats up in Arizona
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6:20 p.m.: Trump crowd endures hot temperatures waiting to get in

As the seats began to fill up Friday at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, and the first speakers were preparing to take the stage, dozens of people waited in line outside with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees.

As they trickled in, abandoned lawn chairs, coolers and more lined the metal dividers, remnants of the dedicated fans who camped out early and have long since escaped the heat.

No one has needed to be transported off-site, EMS coordinator Daniel Thompson said.  

Instead, most of the medical staff's work revolved around keeping patients hydrated with IVs and reminding people in line to eat and drink water as they waited.

— Lacey Latch

6 p.m.: Kari Lake fans a big part of Trump's Prescott Valley audience

When former President Donald Trump visited Phoenix last summer, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was one of his opening speakers and was just beginning to catch on among his base in Arizona.

Now, you’re almost just as likely to find a Kari Lake shirt or hat in today’s rally crowd as typical Trump MAGA merchandise.

Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to Real America's Voice network before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz. on Friday, July 22, 2022. © Joe Rondone/The Republic Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to Real America's Voice network before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz. on Friday, July 22, 2022.

Lake, a former Phoenix TV news anchor, brings with her a level of stardom that cannot be matched by most political figures in the state. Dozens of people who had squeezed in the doors of the arena, finally escaping the heat while making their way through security, were enamored as Lake and her team made their way through the metal detectors, beginning a chant of her name within seconds.

Brooklyn Cole is 18, voting in her first election this fall and volunteering for Lake’s campaign.

Through this experience, Cole said, she’s been able to find a community of like-minded peers in her coworkers as well as a candidate she believes in.

“She’s going to get stuff done to help Arizona,” she said. “It’s nice to see people who think the same way as us who actually want to help Arizona.”

— Lacey Latch

5:30 p.m.: Festive atmosphere greets legislative candidates at Trump venue in Prescott Valley

A festive atmosphere with a background of classic rock greeted Trump supporters in patriotic outfits and who’s-who list of Arizona political figures who were still filling up the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

Jose Sanchez stands in between Sheila, left, and Kimberly, who both wanted to be referred to by the last name 'Trump', as they wait for the former President to take the stage at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz. on Friday, July 22, 2022. "I take that name everywhere with me," said Sheila. © Joe Rondone/The Republic Jose Sanchez stands in between Sheila, left, and Kimberly, who both wanted to be referred to by the last name 'Trump', as they wait for the former President to take the stage at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz. on Friday, July 22, 2022. "I take that name everywhere with me," said Sheila.

About 2,000 people were seated in one half of the stadium, most facing a podium where a lineup of speakers including gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will be heard, culminating with former President Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance at 7 p.m. Behind the podium was a large "Save America" Banner and seven U.S. flags. Mike Lindell, the Trump-supporting MyPillow CEO, chatted with local and national TV news media on a raised platform. Outside, people continued to move through security after passing a statute of Donald Trump and booths of merchandise.

Several candidates for the Legislature were among the attendees, some expressing concern for one of the main themes of the event: alleged election fraud that robbed Trump of his rightful win in 2020. It’s a theory that has been debunked by federal judges, local county recorders and election experts.

Liz Harris, an election-conspiracy-promoting Chandler real estate agent running against five other Republican candidates for the state Legislature in the Aug. 2 primary election, told The Arizona Republic she would be concerned about hijinks in the primary even if she wins.

Former state lawmaker Anthony Kern, who was photographed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and is now running for state Senate, held his fingers in the sign of the cross and backed away when a Republic reporter asked him a question. One of his handlers yelled at him “to keep moving!”

Janae Shamp, who’s running for state senator in Legislative District 29, said her campaign noticed an immediate bump after she was endorsed by Trump.

“We were leading in the polls,” she boasted. “Now we’re leading even more.”

She said she was excited that her husband, Skip, would get to meet “the president.”

— Ray Stern

5 p.m.: Trump endorses Eli Crane in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District race

Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed veteran and small business owner Eli Crane for the U.S. House from Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

The Aug. 2 Republican primary winner of the mostly rural district that includes Apache, Coconino, Graham, Greenlee and Navajo counties, as well as parts of five other counties, will take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in the Nov. 8 general election. 

In a written statement, Trump said: “With Eli as the Republican Nominee, we will defeat Democrat Tom O'Halleran, a puppet of (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, who is weak on Borders, the Second Amendment, Election Integrity, and is a disgrace to the people of Arizona. Eli Crane has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

In response to the endorsement, state Rep. Walt Blackman of Snowflake, one of Crane's Republican rivals for the House seat, called Crane a "fake America First candidate" and said "the for-hire consultants have once again given President Trump bad advice when it comes to who he should be endorsing."

“Eli Crane is a fake America First candidate who doesn’t live in our district and doesn’t understand our rural Arizona values," Blackman said. "It should come as no surprise that he never voted for President Trump or any Republican in a primary election since he showed his true colors when he moved his business out of Arizona to avoid paying taxes in our state. ... I look forward to serving in Congress and will be a tireless advocate and fighter (for) President Trump’s America First agenda."

Also running in the 2nd Congressional District’s crowded GOP primary include: Mark DeLuzio, the self-described "principal architect" of the Danaher Business System on his website; Steven Krystofiak, Camp Verde farmer and small business owner; Andy Yates, a small business owner; Williams Mayor John Moore; and QAnon-associated Ron Watkins.

— Tara Kavaler

4:40 p.m.: Taylor Robson promises National Guard 'surge' at border, slams NYC and DC mayors over bused migrants

Karrin Taylor Robson, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate, said Friday that, if elected governor, she would “surge” the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, finish building the border wall and defund sanctuary cities.

"We will defund sanctuary cities and we will finish the wall on every inch that we can," Taylor Robson said at a news briefing alongside former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Doug Ducey.

During the briefing, held at the National Border Patrol Council, Ducey and Taylor Robson criticized the Biden administration for what Ducey described as being “derelict in their duty to secure our border,” while lauding Pence’s efforts to secure the border during the Trump administration. 

Gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson speaks during her campaign event at TYR Tactical in Peoria on July 22, 2022. © Patrick Breen/The Republic Gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson speaks during her campaign event at TYR Tactical in Peoria on July 22, 2022.

Taylor Robson and Ducey also criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for their comments regarding a surge of migrants in their cities, which they attributed to the Republican governors of Arizona and Texas. In May, Ducey began busing migrants from Yuma to Washington, D.C., on a voluntary basis, but recently denied sending migrants to New York City.

“Illegal activity at our southern border has never been worse,” Taylor Robson said. "It's gotten so bad that even big city mayors back East are finally, finally noticing because Arizona has been on the front lines.

“They're finally just getting a taste of what Arizona communities have dealt with for decades," she said.

— José Ignacio Castañeda Perez

4:15 p.m.: In Tucson, Pence praises Ducey's efforts to secure the border

Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke Friday at a border security briefing at the National Border Patrol Council building in Tucson.

Pence arrived with Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson and Gov. Doug Ducey. They walked through a small, cheering crowd of Border Patrol personnel and their families who were clapping and holding signs in support of the candidate.

At a news conference, Pence reiterated his support for Taylor Robson, lauded Ducey’s efforts to secure the border and bashed Democrats and the Biden administration.

Pence said Taylor Robson would be the best candidate to continue Ducey’s border security efforts and highlighted her long political career that began during the Reagan administration.

He asked Arizona Republicans to “nominate the kind of leadership to continue to build on the progress that Doug Ducey and his administration has made. That candidate is Karrin Taylor Robson,” Pence said.

Pence praised the efforts Ducey has made in securing the border, highlighting a border security bill Ducey signed that allocated more than $500 million to securing the border. He also praised the governor’s efforts in creating the Border Strike Force.

Pence also criticized Democrats and President Biden’s administration, saying Biden created a “humanitarian crisis” after halting construction of the border wall and rolling back the Remain in Mexico policy.

Pence said the situation at the border is not only an Arizona issue but a “50-state problem.” He called on Biden administration to “do your job, enforce the laws of the United States, secure our borders.”

Pence called the Trump administration’s work on securing the border a “success,” which he attributed to the administration’s partnership with the Border Patrol Council in those efforts. 

He also praised the union’s endorsement of Robson. 

“And I'm very confident that with your (union) support and endorsement of Karrin Taylor Robson, she will be able to lead in just such a way here in Arizona, as Governor Ducey has done and that we were able to do with your counsel in the Trump-Pence administration,” Pence said.

— Sarah Lapidus 

1:30 p.m.: Pence gives no sign of Trump trouble

Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke approvingly of the Trump administration and gave no indication of the political rupture with his former running mate during his campaign appearance in Peoria.

Pence endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson and cast her opponent, Kari Lake, as a GOP convert when it suited her.

The appearance came a day after the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol dramatically showed that former President Donald Trump did nothing as a mob hunted for Pence.

In his characteristic low-key fashion, Pence argued during his 21-minute remarks to a group of about 350 people that Taylor Robson has been a reliable resource for Republicans for decades, while Lake backed Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in recent years.

“Look, I’m always happy to welcome converts to the Republican Party,“ Pence said. “But Arizona Republicans don’t need a governor that supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“You need a governor that supported every conservative cause from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump. You need Karrin Taylor Robson in the statehouse.”

Ronald J. Hansen

12:55 p.m.: Supporters at Taylor Robson rally unmoved by Trump

Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence shake hands with gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson during her campaign event at TYR Tactical on July 22, 2022, in Peoria. © Patrick Breen/The Republic Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence shake hands with gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson during her campaign event at TYR Tactical on July 22, 2022, in Peoria.

The fissure in the Republican Party was on display at a rally with former Vice President Mike Pence at TYR Tactical in Peoria.

The former vice president appeared with Gov. Doug Ducey to boost their endorsed candidate for Arizona governor, Karrin Taylor Robson.

The rally came hours before former President Donald Trump holds his own event in Prescott Valley with his endorsed candidates, including his preferred candidate for governor, former local TV news anchor Kari Lake.

Among some in the crowd for Taylor Robson, the Trump endorsement of Lake either made no difference in their choice of gubernatorial candidate — or had a negative impact.

Maria Sanchez of Ahwatukee Foothills said that she’s supporting Robson because of the candidate’s priorities, like public safety and being a “constitutionalist.”

Asked about the impact of the Trump endorsement, she said, “I don’t think it was either a benefit or a detraction.”

Anastasia Martinez of Surprise also said Trump’s endorsement did not affect her support of Taylor Robson. “She stands for values like life and the Constitution,”  she said.

Taylor Robson and Lake share similar views on many policy issues. But like the Trump divide in the GOP, conduct and personality factor into the split more than policy.

Clay Robinson of Wickenburg voted for Trump in 2020 but said the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was a “pivotal moment” for why the former president's endorsement of a candidate is a “70% deal breaker” for him today.

“I think it is something that is terrible, and I don’t want it to happen again,” he said. “It’s clear that rhetoric matters.“

Robinson said his opinion of Trump is not an outlier in the Republican party.

“I honestly think there’s a lot more people than you think who disavow the president’s behavior but still think he did a lot of good for America,” he said.     

Raphael Ahmed, whose wife, Farhana Shifa, is running for a seat on the Chandler City Council, was among those who attended the rally. He said that Robson approaches issues in a more “humanistic” way, which he explained as meaning that she puts people above politics and party. 

“She doesn’t wear a chip on her shoulder,” he said.

— Tara Kavaler

10 a.m.: Democrats say Trump and Pence are extreme, 'one and the same'

Arizona Democrats made the case Friday that there was no room for moderates in the state’s Republican Party.

Ahead of competing rallies with Donald Trump in Prescott Valley and Mike Pence in Peoria, they argued the former president and vice president are "one and the same."

“Make no mistake: Pence and his candidates are just as extreme, anti-choice, and dangerous for Arizonans as Trump and his cronies,” Raquel Terán, Arizona Democratic Party chair, said at a news conference outside the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix.

Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Raquel Terán speaks during a news conference on July 22, 2022, at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse, 401 W. Washington St., Phoenix. © Mark Henle/Arizona Republic Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Raquel Terán speaks during a news conference on July 22, 2022, at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse, 401 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

The event also featured presumptive Democratic nominee for Arizona attorney general Kris Mayes and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo.

"The challenges that we face in Arizona demand that we work with each other to address the many real-life issues in front of us, not '2000 Mules' grifting fairytales,” Mayes said, referring to the documentary that claims to show massive election fraud, and listing challenges such consumer fraud, fentanyl and abortion restrictions at the state level. 

She criticized Abe Hamadeh, the Trump-endorsed Republican attorney general candidate who will attend his rally later Friday.

“I cannot think of anyone less representative of my hometown than Donald Trump and the extremist candidates he will be coming here to tout, including the election-denying, anti-democracy, anti-women GOP candidate for attorney general that Trump is supporting,” Mayes said.

“Arizonans deserve so much better, and as your next attorney general, I will be a true lawyer for the people. All people."

— Tara Kavaler

7 a.m.: Trump slams Pence ahead of dueling appearances in Arizona

Former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump will be in Arizona on July 22, 2022, campaigning for different Arizona primary candidates. © Provided by Arizona Republic Former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump will be in Arizona on July 22, 2022, campaigning for different Arizona primary candidates.

Former President Donald Trump raged again over his false claims of a stolen election Thursday, alluding to potential reforms to the Electoral College and targeting former Vice President Mike Pence on the eve of perhaps their most striking split since the day of the U.S. Capitol riot.

Trump’s latest broadsides, released as statements from his Save America PAC, were issued just ahead of the prime-time hearing by the House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot that painted Trump as intent on letting the three-hour insurrection proceed.

“Mike Pence told me, and everybody else, there was nothing he could do about the Electoral Vote Count — it was etched in stone,” Trump said. “But if so, how come the Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) are working so hard to make sure there is nothing a VP can do.”

Trump said “everybody ganged up” on Pence to convince him he had no legal authority, and ignored “largescale Voter Fraud and Irregularities.”

Trump and Pence were both scheduled to make appearances in Arizona on Friday that will only underscore their differences.

Trump was slated to hold a rally in Prescott Valley to remind Republican voters to support those he has endorsed, most notably gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Jan. 6 hearings: Trump glued to TV, Secret Service fears, Cheney forecasts 'dam' break

Pence was scheduled to appear in Peoria with Gov. Doug Ducey to deliver his endorsement of Karrin Taylor Robson. They also were scheduled to receive a briefing on the border at an event in Tucson.

Trump’s statement was sandwiched between the hearing and reports that the Senate is forming a bipartisan coalition willing to rewrite 19th century rules on the Electoral College that could remove ambiguities about the certification process that Trump and the mob that supported him sought to halt. 

Trump went on to suggest that Pence’s inaction on Jan. 6 led to inflation and pricey gas, war in Ukraine and a disgraceful U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

“What a difference it would have made if the State Legislatures had another crack at looking at all of the Fraud, Abuse, and Irregularities that have been found. Our Country would have been a different place!” Trump said.

— Ronald J. Hansen

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump, Pence in Arizona: Trump fans hit merchandise tables again on way out

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