YUMA, ARIZONA - President Donald Trump reached back Tuesday to the signature issue of his 2016 campaign to deliver a broadside against Democratic rival Joe Biden over immigration.
As Democrats gathered virtually to denounce the president’s policies and formally nominate Biden to challenge him, Trump targeted voters in a pair of key swing states and sought to curry favor with women voters.
In Arizona, one of the top 2020 battleground states, the president sought to paint a Biden victory in apocalyptic terms, insisting "the survival of our nation is at stake" in November, as he slammed what he hyperbolically labeled the "insane and lethal policies" of his opposition.
"Biden's plan is the most radical, extreme, reckless, dangerous and deadly immigration plan ever put forward by a major party candidate," he said. "It must be defeated. and it will be defeated on November 3."
Trump mischaracterized Biden's views on immigration, which are more centrist than many others in his party. Biden, for instance, does not support abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he argues that crossing the U.S. border illegally should be criminally prosecuted rather than made a civil offense, as many other top Democratic presidential hopefuls proposed.
With his second campaign trip in two days, Trump was hoping to halt an expected convention polling bump for his rival and shore up support with his focus on immigration, one of the most important issues to his political base.
In recent weeks, Trump has been trying to build support within the pivotal female voter constituency and has stepped up his events aimed at women. His campaign has launched another "women for Trump" bus tour, and the president has embraced a "law and order" message with renewed vigor.
The president also worked in a last-minute stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a briefing about damage from the derecho last week that has left thousands without power and caused catastrophic damage across the battleground state. Many there have expressed outrage that their plight has not received more national attention.
The storm, which packed 100 mph winds and similar power to an inland hurricane, blew down trees, flipped vehicles and caused widespread damage.
"We've come through for you, and we will always come through for Iowa," Trump said, as the city's mayor urged him to consider enhanced federal disaster funding for people there.
Trump highlighted his immigration agenda during his stop in Yuma, and got an update on construction of his southern border wall. The president insisted that, in addition to fulfilling his pledge to build the wall, Mexico was also paying for it — even though they're not.
"They are paying for it," he said as he stood in front of a replica of his wall, telling reporters he's planning to enact a border crossing toll at some point in the future.
"Mexico will be paying," he said. "We're figuring how much we have to charge."