Trump hails January 6 “hostages,” says migrants are not people, threatens “bloodbath” if he is not returned to the White House

Speaking before several thousand supporters and dozens of Republican politicians in Dayton, Ohio, Saturday afternoon, Donald Trump ramped up his violent campaign rhetoric in an 80-minute speech. The former president and 2024 Republican candidate hailed the far-right militia elements that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and promised a “bloodbath” if he is not returned to the White House in November.

Before Trump spoke, the moderator said over the loudspeaker: “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages.” Trump raised his right arm and saluted as the “January 6 Choir” sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” The choir is a collection of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other far-right thugs, who have been imprisoned for their actions in furtherance of Trump’s failed coup.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump salutes during a campaign rally on Saturday, March 16, 2024 in Vandalia, Ohio. [AP Photo/Jeff Dean]

Trump pledged to release his fascist foot soldiers “the first day we get into office,” calling them “unbelievable patriots.”

He then turned to the other core theme of his 2024 campaign, violent anti-immigrant agitation. “Among my very first actions upon taking office,” he said, “will be to stop the invasion of our country and send Joe Biden’s illegal aliens back home.”

Speaking of migrants seeking asylum in the US, the ex-president said, “Young people, they are in jail, for years, if you call them people. I don’t know if you call them people. In some case they are not people in my opinion ... these are bad, these are animals, OK?”

Trump made a direct appeal to the trade union bureaucracy, warning that the unions would “go out of business” if he was not elected. “I’m dealing with the Teamsters,” he boasted, alluding to private meetings with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien. He praised “Sean and everybody” as “good people,” and said, “I hope they are going to endorse Trump.”

Appealing to the virulent nationalism and anti-communism of the corporatist union leadership, he said of Chinese-made electric vehicles: “We are going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line. And you are not going to be able to sell those cars, if I get elected.

“Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole ... that’s going to be the least of it.”

Trump was joined at the rally by Republican officials, including Congressmen from Ohio Jim Jordan and Max Miller, US Senator J.D. Vance and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Also present were South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.

Trump devoted a portion of the rally to boosting his preferred Republican candidate to join Vance in the US Senate, Bernie Moreno. He attacked Moreno’s primary opponent, Republican State Sen. Matt Dolan, calling him a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) who is “trying to be the next Mitt Romney.” Dolan has received the endorsement of Republicans such as current Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and former Senator Rob Portman.

Meanwhile, Biden made a campaign trip to Michigan, where he sought to avoid protests against his complicity in Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza by holding no public events and refusing to take questions from the press. Last month, when he held an event at UAW Region 1 headquarters in Warren, Michigan with UAW President Shawn Fain, angry protesters demonstrated outside the venue and were held back by columns of riot police.

In the Michigan Democratic primary on March 5, more than 100,000 ballots, over 13 percent of the total, were cast for “uncommitted” in a protest against Biden’s backing of the mass killing and ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

In Saginaw, Biden appeared in front of the cameras for a tightly choreographed event at a supporter’s house, where he exchanged pleasantries with local elected officials and Democratic Party operatives.

A Saginaw police officer stands guard across the street from the house where President Joe Biden spoke to a handful of supporters during a private campaign event in Saginaw, Michigan, Thursday, March 14, 2024. [AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin]

On Saturday evening, Biden attended the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington D.C. The affair was held at the luxurious Washington Grand Hyatt. Dinners for the 650 journalists and politicians who attended the event, according to the Washington Post, were $400 a plate.

In 2020 and 2021, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed in 2022 and became a “superspreader” event. At least 72 people tested positive for the virus in its aftermath, including Representatives Joaquin Castro (Democrat-Texas) and Adam Schiff (Democrat-California) and Senator Susan Collins (Republican-Maine). Multiple senior cabinet officials, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, also tested positive.

In his comments Saturday night, Biden once again denounced Trump for blocking his request for another $60 billion in military aid to Ukraine, accusing Trump of caving in to Putin. As in his war-mongering State of the Union address, Biden pledged that he would “not bow down” to the Russian president.

He also repeated his attacks on Trump for blocking his administration’s vicious anti-immigrant bill. “They want a secure border, but they block ... the strongest border bill ever,” he said.