Trump to campaign in Arizona following hush money conviction

PHOENIX (AP) — Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail Thursday with a trip to Arizona, his first battlefield appearance since arriving. sentenced in a hush money scandal.

Trump is expected to speak at a town hall in Phoenix hosted by Turning Point, a conservative youth organization that has seen its influence rise alongside Trump’s takeover of the GOP.

Asset responded defiantly to the verdict against him a day after a New York jury found him guilty last week of a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a discreet money payment to a porn actor. But he did not speak directly to voters in swing states who will decide the November election.

He will probably find a friendly audience at the turn. Directed by Charlie Kirk, the group harnessed the energy of young people attracted to Trump’s Make America Great Again movement by cultivating conservative influencers and hosting glitzy events. And his made Kirk and his allies rich.

Nowhere is Turning Point’s influence greater than in Arizona, the group’s adopted state where its loyalists have assumed leading roles in the state GOP but have struggled to win the general election. Turning Point’s slate of conservative candidates lost in the 2022 midterms, including Kari Lake, who lost the gubernatorial race and is now running for U.S. Senate.

The group is looking to expand its influence this year to other battleground states and got a boost when Trump ousted Ronna McDaniel, former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, in February. She was replaced by Trump’s hand-picked successor, his daughter-in-law Lara Trumpwho spoke positively about his collaboration with Turning Point.

President Joe Biden won Arizona in 2020 by about 10,000 votes. It was, along with Georgia, one of two states whose vote was decided by less than half a percentage point and is expected to be close again this year.

Arizona Republicans enthusiastically embraced Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. State lawmakers ordered an unprecedented partisan recount that confirmed his loss. Officials in southern Arizona’s Cochise County are facing criminal charges for refusing to certify the results of the 2022 midterm elections.

Hours before Trump speaks, Jake Hoffman, a Republican state senator who is also a top Turning Point consultant, will be put on trial for his role in an alleged plot to overturn Trump’s defeat. Trump in Arizona. Hoffman is accused of being a bogus elector who signed a document falsely claiming to represent Arizona in the Electoral College.

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows should face justice in the same case Friday.

Despite the state’s prominence on the presidential map, Trump has not campaigned in Arizona since 2022, when he held a rally in support of his slate of midterm candidates, all of whom ended up losing.

Trump’s trip west includes several private fundraisers and a rally Sunday in Nevada, another battleground state he narrowly lost in 2020.

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