Five takeaways from Friday’s Trump-Michels rally in Waukesha

·4 min read

WAUKESHA - Former President Donald Trump looked to boost his chosen candidate for Wisconsin governor in Milwaukee’s Republican suburbs during a rally Friday, adding pressure to a contentious primary that will be decided on Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways from the rally held at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds:

Tim Michels was fired up

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Governor hopeful Tim Michels gave one of his most energetic speeches yet, buoyed by Trump's late-stage appearance. The construction executive, who entered the race late and shot up in the polls after Trump’s endorsement, is hoping to capitalize off the momentum, particularly in the Milwaukee suburbs on Kleefisch’s home turf. Election integrity, Michels said, is his No. 1 priority.

"We are going to stop the Zuckerbucks, out-of-state billionaires coming into our state and taking control of our election process. It won’t happen anymore." Michels was referring to grants to Wisconsin municipalities funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Courts have upheld the private grants, most of which went to larger cities where Democratic voters are concentrated.

More: Grants to five cities are at the heart of Wisconsin Republicans' election review. Here are the activities under scrutiny

Michels continued to hammer on his branding as the race's outsider and decried the influence of lobbyists in elections.

"My opponent, her husband’s a lobbyist as well. We need to get those people out of government. We need to bring some purity back into government."

More: With massive wealth, Tim Michels can afford to stay on the air in Wisconsin's race for governor

Trump is hungry for another win

Adam Steen, Robin Vos' primary opponent for the 63rd Assembly District seat, speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
Adam Steen, Robin Vos' primary opponent for the 63rd Assembly District seat, speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

The former president kicked off his speech bragging about recent high-profile primary wins for his endorsed candidates in Arizona and Michigan. With a somewhat mixed record for the strength of his endorsement so far, he’s looking to seal in the streak with a “massive” Michels win next Tuesday.

"Now you have to understand who Tim is ... he builds massive tunnels, infrastructure, he bores through earth, he bores through mountains," Trump said. "He’s big time."

Trump also has another chance for victory in Adam Steen, his recently endorsed candidate against state Speaker Robin Vos in Assembly District 63. Trump and his allies have increasingly agitated against Vos for not doing more to decertify Wisconsin’s 2020 election results. The crowd cheered loudly for Steen’s appeal to “toss Vos”.

“We need to fire Robin Vos and replace him with Adam Steen,” Trump said. “A lot of people think (Vos is) a Democrat, actually.”

Gableman prays for Trump, endorses Vos challenger

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman acknowledges the crowd before he speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman acknowledges the crowd before he speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Former state Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman kicked off the event by praying for God to protect Trump.

Gableman’s investigation into results of the 2020 presidential election has yielded no  evidence of fraud. He has repeatedly claimed that his investigation is nonpartisan.

More: 'An incompetent circus': Michael Gableman's 2020 election review reaches 1 year and the $1 million mark with little to show

The “gentleman justice,” who Vos recruited for the fraud investigation and until recently authorized paying Gableman $11,000 per month, also endorsed Steen on Friday in an announcement made by Trump. Gableman joins state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who has also endorsed Steen even though Vos previously picked her to chair the Assembly Elections committee.

Rep. Janel Brandtjen speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
Rep. Janel Brandtjen speaks as former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

More: A who's who guide to the Republican review of Wisconsin's 2020 presidential election

Trump boos Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, a departure from members of his party

Many national Republicans, including Texas senator Ted Cruz and Trump's secretary of state Mike Pompeo, supported the Democratic speaker’s recent visit to Taipei. Trump, meanwhile, blasted the move for provoking the Chinese government, which fired several missiles over the Taiwan Strait.

“What was she doing there?” Trump asked, saying he predicted Taiwan would be invaded next after Ukraine. “How stupid it was that she went.”

Crowd beats the heat

People gather before former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
People gather before former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally for Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds in Waukesha on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Attendees wilted in the late afternoon heat, and many were onsite for up to 12 hours. But video call-ins from Arizona governor hopeful Kari Lake and MyPillow exec Mike Lindell — plus an eclectic mix of songs from Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera — kept energy at the outdoor rally relatively stable.

Trump’s arrival was delayed by 1.5 hours due to stormy weather in New York. But he said that even “global warming will not stop us from going” to Wisconsin.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Trump rally for Tim Michels in Waukesha: Five takeaways