Donald Trump supporters reportedly started leaving the venue in large numbers just 15 minutes into his speech at a rally in Michigan on Saturday night.
The former president held another campaign-style rally at a community college gymnasium in Warren, Michigan and spoke for about 102 minutes in total, as he repeated unproven allegations that the 2020 election was stolen and endorsed several Republican candidates for the upcoming midterms.
A reporter who was live-tweeting from the Macomb College Sports & Expo Center suggested the crowd was far from the arena’s full capacity of 6,600. One picture purportedly taken 10 minutes before the end of the rally showed sparsely populated seating towards the rear of the venue.
Attendees began leaving the venue after only 15 minutes as Mr Trump launched into a list of his familiar grievances, Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan said in a tweet.
“There’s also been a steady stream of attendees heading for the exits since about the 15-minute mark of this now hour-long and ongoing speech. Former president Trump said a few words about the #MIGOP candidates and launched into familiar grievances #TrumpRally,” he said.
A video shared by him purported to show a stream of people, some dressed in red, making for the exit door as others were seen cheering and clapping.
Mr Trump traveled to Michigan for the second time in six months to rouse his base ahead of the midterm elections, for an event where he was supposed to endorse Tudor Dixon for governor, Matt DePerno for attorney general, and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state.
However, his speech only briefly discussed the candidates before Mr Trump veered off into a rant slamming Democrats and the FBI’s search of his Florida residence while characterizing himself as a politician persecuted by his rivals.
At one point he reportedly lashed out at the Democrats as “cruel and vindictive left-wing tyrants” and “sinister” as he called on his supporters to vote for Republicans.
“These are dangerous people who are willing to burn every American institution to the ground,” he said.
In the most notable part of his speech, he offered a shout-out to the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for continuing to parrot his lies about the 2020 election in an interview with the House January 6 select committee.
“As we talk about and think of the rigged and stolen election of 2020 – the presidential election, rigged and stolen – I would like to thank a great woman named Ginni Thomas. Do you know Ginni Thomas? Great woman,” he said.
Trump added: “She says that she still believes the 2020 election was stolen… She didn’t say, ‘Uh well, I’d like not to get involved, of course it was a wonderful election’… She didn’t ‘t wilt under pressure like so many others that are weak people and stupid people, because once they wilt, they end up being a witness for a long time.”
He also addressed Hurricane Ian for the first time since one of the most powerful storms wreaked devastation across the state of Florida, killing more than 80 people.
Mr Trump said he wanted to send “profound sympathy and our immense support to everyone back in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas who are struck by this brutal wrath of the hurricane”.
“Not a good hurricane. This was a big one,” he said, adding that he wanted to “say hello to everybody” in the affected area.