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Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message


Most politicians, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, this year were forgoing any of the traditional holiday parades and flag-waving appearances. The vast majority of fireworks displays in big cities and small rural towns have been canceled as new cases reported in the United States have increased by 90 percent in the past two weeks.

Mr. Trump’s itinerary Friday and Saturday, however, had a different message: The sparkly, booming show must go on at all costs in the service of the divisive message and powerful images he wants to promote.

“We will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people,” Mr. Trump said, referring to his political opponents and their supporters.

In response to Mr. Trump’s event in South Dakota, Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign, said in a statement, “Our whole country is suffering through the excruciating costs of having a negligent, divisive president who doesn’t give a damn about anything but his own gain — not the sick, not the jobless, not our constitution, and not our troops in harm’s way.”

Under the granite gaze of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, Mr. Trump announced plans to establish what he described as a “vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live,” an apparent repudiation of the growing pressure to remove statues tied to slavery or colonialism.

As he arrived, Air Force One performed a flyover of Mount Rushmore. His campaign promoted the stunt online, calling him “the coolest president ever.”

In the amphitheater below, few in the packed crowd practiced any social distancing as people waved signs that referred to CNN as the “Communist News Network.” As he observed a flyover by the Navy’s Blue Angels, Mr. Trump sat on a packed dais with the first lady, Melania Trump, the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, none of whom wore masks.


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