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'Bloodbath' comments aside, Trump's first rally as the presumptive GOP nominee foretold a dark campaign ahead

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio on March 16, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio on March 16, 2024.Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images
  • Trump spoke at an Ohio rally on Saturday, his first since effectively clinching the GOP nomination.

  • He made an ambiguous remark about a "bloodbath" occurring if he loses the election.

  • He also forcefully predicted that there will be no more elections if he doesn't win.

As you might have heard by now, former President Donald Trump declared at a rally on Saturday that a "bloodbath" would take place if he loses the election in November.

"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," said Trump. "It's going to be a bloodbath for the country, that'll be the least of it."

There's been a lot of back-and-forth over what Trump meant by those comments. His campaign and other allies have insisted that the "bloodbath" comment referred solely to a potential economic disaster for the automobile industry, given that the comments were nestled within a long tangent about trade and tariffs.

At the same time, Trump has a history of using incendiary and sometimes violent rhetoric, and "that's going to be the least of it" suggests he was making a far broader argument than just cars.

No matter who you believe on the "bloodbath" comments, Trump's speech was full of other dark premonitions and statements — undisputed by his campaign — that foreshadow a grim campaign ahead as the country girds for a 7-month-long rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

The rally, held at Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio, was Trump's first major campaign appearance since clinching enough delegates to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

It technically wasn't even a Trump rally. The event was quickly organized this week by Buckeye Values PAC, a super PAC that's supporting former car dealership owner Bernie Moreno as he struggles to fend off a Trump-skeptical opponent in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary.

But with cold winds ripping through the outdoor rally, Trump had difficulty reading his teleprompter, resulting in a stream-of-consciousness speech that centered primarily around the former president's own grievances.

'This country could see another civil war'

"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages," declared an announcer immediately after Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA" — one of Trump's signature rally entry songs — had concluded.

For the next 2 and a half minutes, the former president stood at attention on the stage as speakers blared "Justice for All," a version of the national anthem sung over a prison phone line by a chorus of jailed defendants who are alleged to have participated in the January 6 insurrection.

Beginning his speech, Trump called the defendants "unbelievable patriots."

Trump spent much of his meandering, 90-plus minute speech hitting the same array of perceived injustices that he's harped on for years, including investigations into his 2016 campaign's ties to Russia and his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

The speech was also peppered with a bevy of insults against those he views as his political foes," including referring to the Gov. of California as "Gavin Newscum" and making fun of Illinois Gov. JB Pritker's weight.

But most ominous were the comments he made about the upcoming election: at one point, Trump suggested that another election loss for him would mean the end of American democracy.

"I don't think you're going to have another election in this country if we don't win this election," Trump told his supporters. "Certainly not an election that's meaningful."

As the rematch between Trump and Biden has become more evident, it's increasingly clear that the former president could embark on the same path that he did after the 2020 election — contesting the election results, stoking baseless fear about the political process, and potentially inspiring further violent acts.

And at the rally in Dayton, some of his supporters indicated that they're willing to go there as well.

Ruth Wyatt, a 63-year-old Greenville resident who recently moved to the state from South Carolina, told Business Insider at the rally that she had planned to be in Washington on January 6, 2021, but was thwarted by a case of strep throat. "Or else I'd probably be in prison," said Wyatt. "Because I planned on taking a crap on Pelosi's desk. That was my plan."

If Trump loses, Wyatt said she's likely to try to head to Washington again: "I will be there. I'm not getting strep throat this time."

"If they steal it again, I would almost say we could rise up," she continued. "What happened in the Civil War? They rose up. This country could see another civil war."

Despite that grim prediction, Wyatt said she was simply worried for her grandchildren rather than herself: "I know how to shoot. I'm an old country girl. I know how to take care of me."

Read the original article on Business Insider