President Trump leaned hard into Second Amendment rhetoric during a rally in Virginia late Friday, arguing Joseph R. Biden will wage the most aggressive war on gun rights in U.S. history.
“Your firearms will be confiscated,” Mr. Trump told supporters in Newport News. “Whether you like it or not.”
“Only by voting for me can you save your country and save your Second Amendment,” he said.
Mr. Trump, who caused a stir this week with his reluctance to commit to a peaceful post-election transition, revived his complaints about mail-in ballots and the possibility of fraud.
“We do want a very friendly transition. But we don’t want to be cheated. And be stupid,” he said.
Mr. Trump says he has a shot at winning Virginia, despite its steady march into blue-state status.
Hillary Clinton won the state by roughly 5 points in 2016 and polls show Joseph R. Biden leading Mr. Trump this time by a comfortable amount — sometimes by double digits.
“I said let’s give Virginia a shot. We’re nearby,” Mr. Trump said, noting he brought Vice President Mike Pence along for the visit.
“39 days from now we’re going to win Virginia, we’re going to win North Carolina,” he said, throwing in the neighboring swing state for good measure and asking whether any Tarheels made the trip across the border.
Mr. Trump revved up the crowd by promoting his planned nomination Saturday of a Supreme Court justice. Reports suggest it will be Amy Coney Barrett, who sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The only thing I can tell you for sure is it will be a woman. Is that OK?” he told the outdoor crowd with Air Force One parked behind him.
Mr. Trump repeated his belief the administration deserves an “A” or “A-plus” for its response to the coronavirus, which has killed over 203,000 people in the U.S. The nation has about 4% of the world’s population but a fifth of the deaths from the pandemic.
“The only thing we did badly on it was public relations,” Mr. Trump said.
He argued Mr. Biden would kill the economic recovery from the virus and delay the rollout of a vaccine, which is on track for approval in the coming months.
Katie Koslow, a 29-year-old military spouse who lives on the other side of the airfield in Newport News, attended with her husband and their 6-year-old child. Like the majority of rally-goers, no one in the family wore masks.
“We’re here to show our daughter what it means to be patriot,” Ms. Koslow said, adding about the crowd: “It’s wonderful. What’s happened with the shutdown is a travesty. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for morale.”
The president promoted GOP candidates in Virginia, saying they can help Republicans take back the House. He also hit Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who along with his wife tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day.
The president brought up the Democrat’s controversial comments about late-term abortion and his 2019 scandal over a blackface photo in his medical-school yearbook, along with the governor’s admission he once dressed as Michael Jackson.
Mr. Trump said the governor made the right decision when he decided not to moonwalk at a press conference.
“That would not have been pretty,” Mr. Trump said.