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Trump’s superfans dream of running again and of JFK Jr. on the ticket

If Kallatsa was worried about sounding too conspiratorial, he should not have been. He was not alone among the crowd in believing that JFK Jr. not only is he still alive, but is also a secret Trump supporter embedded far into the "deep state." One contestant was seen wearing a red shirt with the faces of Trump, Kennedy and Kennedy Jr. in the crowd. Michael Protzman, QAnon influencer who organized the event last year at Dallas' Dealey Plaza, where he and others also believed that John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. would reappear from the dead, were seen at the convention sites.

Elsewhere, individuals were wearing hats with "Trump Won" and "Q" buttons. Figures from fringe QAnon online groups, such as Jim and Ron Watkins, shared their rally visits with online followers. And conservative activist Ali Alexander - who helped organize last year's "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6, which has led to countless arrests and fears of the erosion of American democracy - was given priority access to the event.

One of the introductory speakers, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Who represents the district that includes Florence, invoked a "storm to come" - a phrase used by QAnon - in his speech. Another speaker was the Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem, who is running as Arizona's secretary of state, has been linked to QAnon and has reportedly discussed conspiracies over a network of elected officials involved in a network of pedophilia. Both have been approved by Trump.

Trump has always had one foot solid in the camp with right-wing conspirators, beginning with his promotion of natalism during the Obama years. After being ousted from power, he continues to adopt and strengthen this world and its views, and effectively strengthen it as the foundation of the Republican Party. People who were once referred to corners of the Internet and on the fringes of the party have been received with open arms at Trump meetings and found some of their theories shared by the former president himself.

Up on stage Saturday night, Trump pushed for a right-wing conspiracy that suggested that some of the people who attacked the U.S. capital on January 6 were in fact FBI informants.

"Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol complex on January 6 were FBI agents for confidential informants or otherwise worked directly or indirectly with an agency under the U.S. government? People want to hear this," Trump said.

Days earlier, the congressional committee investigating the capital attacks said it had interviewed Ray Epps, the Arizona man central to the theory that the FBI was secretly involved in the riots. Epps, the select committee said, had informed investigators, "that he was not employed by, worked with or acted on the instructions of any law enforcement agency on January 5 or 6 or at any other time and that he has never been an informant. for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies. "

But that did not stop the former president, who in the footsteps of allies as rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) And Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), as well as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, suggested Epps was part of a "false flag" operation. "What about one guy, 'Go in, get in there everyone.' Epps, "Trump declared.

It was one of several lines from Trump asking his supporters to reject the evidence in front of them. Elsewhere, he went on to argue that his election loss was the result of an extensive effort to defraud the Democrats.

"Why are they not investigating November 3, a false and stolen election?" said Trump to a jubilant crowd that jumped on its feet. "Why are they not looking at it, and there is massive evidence that shows exactly what I'm talking about."

Trump also said he planned to address "dishonesty" from Democrats and the media surrounding the Capitol riots, including his false claim that House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi blocked the National Guard from going to the Capitol to stop the January 6 riots. For followers, the comments did not raise eyebrows - they aroused applause.

"Why are they not talking about the guy who killed the girl Ashli ​​Babbitt?" said Cece Fager of Mesa, Ariz., referring to the January 6 demonstrator who was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer as she and others attempted to break down a door leading to the Representatives' Lobby. "It's all a cover-up. Our country is so divided that it's sad."

Thousands had come out on a cold, windy night an hour south of Phoenix to dusty desert markets to see and hear the former president. Dressed in red, white and blue Trump gear or wearing T-shirts with, shall we say, colorful words to Biden, his followers danced to his MAGA rally playlist, took selfies with each other and high-fived strangers as they walked past.

And while the warm-up acts and Trump spoke, they teamed up to sing "Let's Go Brandon," a popular GOP slogan that gives Biden the middle finger, and "Lock him up," aimed at Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert became conservative enemy.

Few, if any, masks were worn. There was also not much concern about the pandemic sweeping through the country (Trump, for his part, did not urge supporters to get Covid booster shots, as he had done in recent appearances, but instead spoke out against vaccine mandates). They were happy to be in a bunch of like-minded people, but also angry - at Biden, at the Democrats, at the media for, among other things, their portrayal of the riots on 6 January. Some of them had been there.

That included Diane Meade from La Verne, California, who said she traveled 6.5 hours to Florence Saturday night because she believes the 2020 election was stolen and wants to be on "the right side of history." Meade said she was at the Capitol the day of the riots, and since then she has felt "persecuted".

“People associate me with a terrorist group. I'm guilty of affiliation, "said Meade, who said she did not enter the Capitol. "I went for peaceful protest. The people I met just love our country."

By the time the convention came to an end, the violence of the festivities had been overshadowed by anger. Terry Schultz, a snowbird from Arizona from North Dakota, was waiting for the tailgate of a truck. His friends described the demonstration as "refreshing". Schultz, however, seemed agitated over, as he explained, "all the corruption that the Democrats were doing." The election, he said, was stolen. Trump was robbed.

"It was all a bunch of shit," he said.

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