Former president Donald Trump appeared before ardent supporters in the deeply conservative southern state of Alabama on Friday, dismissing the latest federal indictment against him a day earlier as an “illegal and unconstitutional travesty.”
Trump, who is facing sweeping conspiracy charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, called the indictment “ridiculous.”
“It’s an act of desperation by a failed disgraced crooked Joe Biden and his radical left thugs to preserve their grip on power,” Trump told the crowd.
A day after his visit to largely hostile Washington, Trump received a warm reception at the Republican summer dinner in Montgomery, Alabama’s state capital.
The 77-year-old billionaire won Alabama by landslides in 2016 and 2020, and all six Republicans the state sends to the House of Representatives in Washington endorsed his re-election bid ahead of the evening engagement.
He is also backed by Alabama’s senior senator, lieutenant governor and agriculture commissioner, although the junior senator and the governor have yet to endorse any candidate in the Republican primary.
Trump was 39 points ahead of his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average on Friday — the kind of lead that has never been surmounted in modern primary contests.
The former reality TV kingpin and property mogul, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.5 billion, has won the backing of more than 80 members of Alabama’s House and Senate, dwarfing the roster of five lawmakers backing DeSantis.
“DeSantis is a nice guy, but Donald has been there,” Robert Nail, a resident of the state’s largest county, Baldwin, told local news portal AL.com.
“He knows what to do and will hit the ground running. This nonsense with indictments is just background noise.”
But Trump makes his bid for a historic return to the White House charged with 78 felonies in three separate criminal probes.
He is due to go on trial in New York in March next year over allegations that he misrepresented “hush money” payments to a porn star, and is scheduled to be tried in May over his handling of national security secrets.
He was in court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing over his alleged election interference and is expected to soon be charged by state prosecutors over similar allegations in a separate case focused on the southern state of Georgia.