Trump touts border wall, trade, immigration, in Yuma stump speech

By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

President Donald Trump returned to Arizona Tuesday to highlight his work on securing America’s border.

The president’s stop in Yuma, just miles from the southern border, is his fourth trip to Arizona in 2020 and his second to the city. He toured the border wall construction in June as well.

“This election is the most important election in the history of our country,” he said to a supportive crowd of around 1,000 in the Joe Foss Hangar at Yuma International Airport. “The Biden plan would unleash a flood of illegal immigration like the world has never seen.”

Trump remarked on the heat on multiple occasions. The temperature in Yuma at the time of the speech was 114 degrees Fahrenheit.

While Yuma is not seen as a critical political district that Trump needs to win, the area represents an opportunity for the president to hit some high notes in his political songbook, including border security and trade deals.

“President Trump’s return to the Grand Canyon State is yet another reminder that voters have an easy choice this November,” said Trump Victory Spokesperson Emma Hall. “As Joe Biden hides behind Zoom to push his extreme immigration policies that prioritize illegal immigrants over Americans, President Trump has fought to secure the U.S. border, dismantle sanctuary cities, and protect communities across Arizona.”

Yuma’s local economy relies mainly on agriculture, namely winter lettuce and other vegetables, sensitive to trade policies with central and South American countries.

Trump received the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing federal border patrol agents.

Arizona is widely called a “must-win” for Trump in his quest for re-election. The customarily Republican-voting state has steadily veered Democratic in recent years. Polling from OH Predictive insights has Trump trailing Biden but gaining ground compared to July polling of likely Arizona voters.

The stop is the third in the president’s tour coinciding with the Democratic National Convention. He’s scheduled to appear in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Thursday.

Trump was joined by Gov. Doug Ducey, U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko, Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, former NFL kicker Jay Feeley, and Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who is fighting for her seat against astronaut Mark Kelly.

“Martha McSally is an extraordinary person and she’s fighting for us,” Trump said of McSally. Trump said her opponent, Kelly, is hostile toward the Second Amendment.

McSally has trailed Kelly by double digits in polling but has recently pulled closer, perhaps thanks to a barrage of ads tying Kelly to a Chinese company.

Video of the event showed some but not all in the crowd wearing masks, something strongly encouraged by Ducey’s office but not mandated by the state. The Yuma City Council approved a mask requirement in June that carries a warning for the first offense, $50 fine for the second, and $100 fine after that. Pictures showed those who made it inside the hangar mostly wearing face coverings handed out at the entry. Temperature checks were also a prerequisite of admission.

Yuma County has seen its COVID-19 metrics fall in recent weeks, similar to the rest of Arizona, but the largely rural area was hit hard by the virus in July. Yuma County has seen 11,908 confirmed cases, and the state attributes 294 deaths to COVID-19.

Trump praised Ducey on his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Department of Health Services, the state’s seen a cumulative 194,920 COVID-19 cases and 4,529 deaths.