According to a person familiar with the planning, the former President will host his first campaign-style rally in Cleveland on June 26 to support Max Miller, a former Trump administration official and campaign aide who is challenging incumbent GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. The rally marks Trump’s first public appearance on behalf of an insurgent Republican candidate – something party leaders have been dreading from the moment Trump vowed to target GOP incumbents who either voted to impeach him or rejected his false claims of a stolen election.
Gonzalez, a Cleveland native who is seeking reelection for the second time after joining Congress in 2019, is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Trump earlier this year for inciting the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. In addition to attracting a primary challenger, Gonzalez has been censured by Ohio Republican Party leaders and faced calls for his resignation.
In a statement endorsing Miller in February, Trump accused Gonzalez of failing to represent the interests of voters in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, despite Gonzalez’s 26-point margin of victory in 2020.
“Max Miller is a wonderful person who did a great job at the White House and will be a fantastic Congressman,” Trump said in the February statement. “He is a Marine veteran, a son of Ohio, and a true PATRIOT.”
The 45th President’s upcoming appearance in Ohio is the first of two signature MAGA rallies that he is expected to host in the next month, with a second rally scheduled in Tampa, Florida, on the eve of the July 4 holiday. Trump has only made two public appearances since exiting the White House – at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in February and appearing at the North Carolina GOP convention earlier this month.
His aides began eyeing a June start date for his 2022 campaign schedule earlier this year and have spent the past several weeks planning out the logistics of both rallies. His team is also looking to hold rallies in Alabama and Georgia later this summer, as previously reported by CNN. Trump has endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks in the GOP primary to replace retiring Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and is actively searching for a primary challenger to take on Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who drew Trump’s ire after refusing to indulge his false claims about widespread voter fraud in the state.
Gonzalez and Kemp are among several incumbent Republicans whom Trump is trying to oust through the primary process, while also supporting candidates in open races who have embraced his lies about the 2020 election. Despite appearing on behalf of Miller, the former President is not expected to make an endorsement in the Ohio Senate GOP primary when he appears in Cleveland later this month, said the person familiar with his appearance.