CINCINNATI -- "You are going to look back at this rally for the rest of your life," Donald Trump promised a crowd of supporters at U.S. Bank Arena Thursday night.
He and President Barack Obama, positioned on opposite ends of the political spectrum, spent the evening courting Ohio’s closely tied voters with their visions of the nation’s future.
In his first public campaign appearance in Cincinnati, the Republican presidential nominee and supporters presented the election as a potentially apocalyptic turning point for the United States if Trump is not elected -- and cautioned supporters that both the Republican establishment and the Clinton campaign could work to manipulate the election.
"We don’t have a choice," said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, who spoke ahead of Trump’s appearance and reiterated his own hard-line beliefs about immigration. "This country doesn’t have time. I could be quiet and be idle and I could be the sheriff as long as I wanted. I can’t do that. I want to get up and look in the mirror every day and say that I’ve done everything that I can to support Mr. Trump to be the next president of the United States.”
Jones and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who spoke after him, both led the 17,000-odd supporters who attended the rally in the same pair of three-syllable chants: "U.S.A.!" and "Lock her up!"
Trump himself opened with a list of bedrock campaign promises -- a secure border, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and an Ohio-specific vow to restore local mining and manufacturing -- before turning his attention to his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
p>Clinton, Trump said, would not only make a physically and politically weak head of state. ("If she’s over in China, and she goes down in Tiananmen Square, they’re not going to help her up,” he said, referencing a Sept. 11 fainting spell that doctors later reported was a symptom of pneumonia.) According to him, she would also be a criminal who had manipulated her way to the top.
"She should be locked up," he said. "She should. And if I win, I am going to ask my Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into her crimes."
Trump, Giuliani and Jones all emphasized the closeness of the race and repeated the imperative for members of their movement -- "a movement like they've never ever seen in this country," according to Trump -- to be as politically active as possible in the days leading up to Nov. 8.
“This election is a simple choice,” Trump said. "It is a choice between putting our faith in failed politicians -- and she is a failed politician -- or putting our faith in the American people."