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Trump emphasizes candidates following his footsteps during Arizona rally

Every candidate that took the stage Saturday night repeated false and debunked claims of widespread voter fraud.

FLORENCE, Arizona — Thousands of people gathered in Florence Saturday night to see former President Donald Trump.

“I love this state, I love this state.” Former President Trump said while stepping on stage in front of a cheering crowd.

While the former president will not physically be on the ballot, his policy and ideals will be.

Candidates from Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Mark Fincham, Kari Lake, and more took the stage. Their messages were similar, repeating false and disproven claims of widespread election fraud, playing to a crowd.

“There is nothing he likes more than a crowd, a big crowd," said Stephanie Grisham, former White House Press Secretary under President Trump.

Grisham first joined the former president’s team ahead of his election in 2016. She is now fighting to keep him from power.

“I understand a lot of their thoughts because I was a true believer,” Grisham said. “I’m not going away from republican policies. But I’m not on board with an authoritarian way of thinking. And changing democracy because you don’t like the results.”

During his more than one hour speech, the 45th president discussed a myriad of subjects from vaccine mandates, education, the border, inflation and elections.

“If I know Donald Trump and I think I know him fairly well, he chose Arizona on purpose. He’s got people running for office that is on board for undermining our democratic institutions and not accepting legitimate elections,” Grisham said.

Every candidate and personality that took the stage Saturday mentioned the debunked claims of widespread voter fraud at some point during their speeches. 

However, Trump heaped the most praise on gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake. The former president called Lake back on stage during the middle of his speech.

“Trump is looking for people who will carry his mantle. And looking for those extremists that will do what they can to kind of challenge the democratic process in legitimate elections,” Grisham said.

Lake’s speech followed in the footsteps of Trump’s speeches during the 2016 campaign.

 A promise to finish the wall on Arizona’s southern border prompted chants of “build the wall.” Lake said she wanted to lock multiple people up, from Dr. Anthony Fauci to election officials who worked on the 2020 election.

“I understand where they are coming from the loyalty to Donald trump but I want to take a step back and think of the state of Arizona and the divisiveness in this country,” Grisham said. “America first policies I’m still on board. Trump and the way he is trying to harm our country now I’m not on board with. And I’m hoping people will take that to the ballot.”

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