What Trump said during his visit to Las Vegas

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Casey Harrison

June 10, 2024

From rambling about sharks and boats to accusing immigrants of stealing Nevada jobs and a last-minute Senate endorsement, here are three takeaways from Trump’s Sunday visit to Las Vegas:

Former President Donald Trump was in Las Vegas over the weekend for a set of fundraisers and a rally on Sunday — his first such event since a New York jury convicted him late last month on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Trump on Sunday spoke for nearly an hour where he underscored the electoral importance of Nevada in order to win a second term as well as to encourage voters to participate in Tuesday’s primary election.

In the runup to the Nov. 5 general election, “we’re going to spend a lot of time in this state,” Trump said. “If we win Nevada, we win the whole thing.”

But Trump — the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — also went off-script, ranting about teleprompters, sharks and electric vehicles.

Despite a heat advisory that was in effect for most of the weekend and a high-temperature of 100 degrees, upwards of 3,000 people had convened on Las Vegas’ Sunset Park. Clark County officials said after the rally that 24 people were treated by officials for heat-related illness at the event and six more were transported to nearby hospitals.

Like most Trump visits, there’s a lot to unpack. So here are three takeaways from Sunday’s stump speech and how it will affect the 2024 election.

What Trump said during his visit to Las Vegas

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Rants and raves

In much of the time Trump spent at the podium Sunday, he hardly made mention of his conviction. Rather, the former president attacked his opponents and delved into rants that, at times, devolved into hard-to-follow ramblings.

At one moment nearly 50 minutes into his remarks, Trump stopped to enjoy the wind for a moment.

“You feel the breeze? Because I don’t want anyone going on me,” Trump said. “We need every voter. I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.”

VIDEO: Trump: ‘I just want your vote’

In a bizarre moment, Trump went off on a diatribe about sharks and electric boats while discussing his plans to reverse the Biden administration’s efforts to accelerate the transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs). While attacking EVs, Trump posed a bizarre hypothetical of what would happen if an electrified boat were to crash in shark-infested waters.

“So there’s a shark 10 yards away from the boat … Do I get electrocuted if the boat is sinking, and water goes over the battery, [and] the boat is sinking?” he retorted. “Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted, or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted?”

Trump attacked President Joe Biden over his age (81), though Trump himself is just days away from turning 78 and polling shows voters are also skeptical of his age impacting his fitness for office.

Trump further took aim at an executive order Biden issued last week that would bar any migrants who enter the US illegally from claiming asylum, which despite resembling Trump’s first-term border policy, was called “weak.” Under the new order, the president could close the southern border with Mexico and turn away asylum-seekers if the average number of migrants crossing surpasses 2,500 per day during a seven-day period.

Trump also lambasted Jack Smith, the nonpartisan special counsel appointed by the Justice Department who indicted Trump related to his retention of classified documents as well as efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s conviction last month stemmed from state charges in New York, and he is also facing racketeering charges from an election case in Georgia.

“He’s a deranged, dumb guy,” Trump said of the Harvard-educated Smith. “He’s a dumb son of a bitch.”

Trump also lashed out after an apparent technical error with his teleprompter caused a brief pause in his remarks. After a second gaffe with his microphone levels, Trump insinuated he wouldn’t pay the contractor who ran the audio/visual logistics of the rally.

“I don’t pay contractors that do a sh***y job,” Trump said to applause. “And that’s a sh***y job.”

What Trump said during his visit to Las Vegas

People cheer as Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Trump endorses Sam Brown for US Senate

Trump made one mention of Sam Brown during his speech, but it wasn’t until after the rally that the former president finally issued his endorsement of the Republican frontrunner in Tuesday’s Senate primary

Brown, a former US Army Captain who unsuccessfully sought the 2022 GOP nomination for US Senate in Nevada, said on X (formerly Twitter) Sunday night that he was “honored” by Trump’s endorsement. He previously received an endorsement from Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo.

“HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN,” Trump concluded in his endorsement post of Brown.

Though Tuesday is Election Day, more than 38,202 Republican votes have been cast in the two weeks that made up the state’s early voting period, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office. The 65,544 total votes cast in early voting among Republicans, Democrats, and nonpartisans equals 3% of the state’s total voting population of nearly 2 million.

Some polls showed former US Ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter gaining support in recent weeks — but only if he had earned Trump’s endorsement. Gunter, a dermatologist by trade, positioned himself as the “110% pro-Trump” candidate with backing from the state GOP and has largely self-funded his campaign.

Brown’s campaign, meanwhile, has been coordinating with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and leads the seven-candidate GOP primary field in fundraising ahead of a potential November showdown with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.

What Trump said during his visit to Las Vegas

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Making a play for Culinary union workers?

Trump — who has a long record of being hostile to unions — also made an unfounded claim that illegal immigration is “killing unions” in Nevada because migrants are flooding the job market. Trump also asserted, falsely, that 100% of the jobs added during Biden’s tenure have been filled by undocumented immigrants.

Trump’s remarks about immigrants are just the latest in a long line of attacks against them during his 2024 campaign, including remarks that echoed rhetoric used by dictators like Hitler and Mussolini.

“He says immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno said of Trump on Friday. “We know our country was built by immigrants.”

More than 15 million jobs have been added since Biden took office, a figure that largely reflects jobs regained since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also illustrates a job market that has stayed strong throughout almost all of Biden’s first term and has since surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels.

The US added 272,000 jobs in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday, while the national unemployment rate sits at 4% — approximately 1.1% lower than Nevada’s figure at the end of April. Nevada registered roughly 361,000 people working the state’s leisure and hospitality workers in April — an all-time high for the industry and net addition of about 4,000 workers compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Trump lost Nevada in both 2016 and 2020, and his success here in 2024 will largely depend on whether he can convince union laborers to ditch Biden. Powerful Las Vegas union chapters like Culinary Local 226 have been vital to the Democrats’ robust canvassing efforts in recent elections and have already endorsed Biden.

“What we are known for in Nevada, is our ground game,” Monroe-Moreno said. “We don’t just talk to Democratic voters. We talk to everyone.”

But in addition to the very nature of union work Trump said is under attack, he promised that if elected, he would eliminate taxes on all tipped income, a policy that would undoubtedly have an effect on the state’s hospitality sector.

“People that get tips, you’re going to be very happy because when I get to office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips,” Trump said. “We’re going to do that right away, first thing in office because it’s been a point of contention for years.”

Such a policy, if enacted, would represent a large change from the status quo. NBC News reported Monday House Republicans have not included such a proposal in a bill seeking to extend tax cuts signed into law by Trump in 2017. Those tax cuts, notably, primarily benefited large corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

The rest of Trump’s first-term record also suggests he’s more likely to side with corporations and employers over workers.

In a statement after the rally, Culinary Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said Trump’s proposal was nothing more than an empty promise to help appeal to workers.

“For decades, the Culinary Union has fought for tipped workers’ rights and against unfair taxation,” the group’s secretary-treasurer, Ted Pappageorge, said in a statement. “Relief is definitely needed for tip earners, but Nevada workers are smart enough to know the difference between real solutions and campaign promises from a convicted felon.”

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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