Donald Trump torches Joe Biden as gloves finally come off after debate

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in Doral, Florida, on July 9, 2024. Picture: Giorgio Viera / AFP

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in Doral, Florida, on July 9, 2024. Picture: Giorgio Viera / AFP

Published Jul 10, 2024


Donald Trump unleashed a torrent of invective against President Joe Biden on Tuesday, mercilessly assailing the embattled Democrat as he faces down calls to end his re-election bid after a disastrous debate performance.

Trump's speech in Florida was his first public appearance since the clamour for Biden's withdrawal began gaining momentum, and the gloves were emphatically off as the Republican accused Democrats of lying to protect the president.

"It's the biggest cover up in political history," Trump thundered near the start of a 75-minute speech, which focused almost entirely on his 81-year-old election rival.

"As you know, they are all co-conspirators in the sinister plot to defraud the American public about the cognitive abilities of the man in the Oval Office."

Commentators have noted how Trump, 78, has appeared relatively restrained in recent days, stepping back from the limelight to allow the full glare of the media to stay on the Democratic leadership crisis.

But he dispensed with any pretence at restraint as he characterised Biden as a "corrupt, incompetent, cognitively impaired" leader who was barely aware of his own policies or record in office.

In a typically bombastic speech peppered with multiple exaggerations and falsehoods, Trump accused Biden of going missing regularly from the Oval Office while his son Hunter, a convicted felon, runs the government aided by First Lady Jill Biden.

For much of the rally at his Doral National golf resort in Miami, Trump ran through his usual stump speech, characterizing America as teetering on the edge of catastrophe and describing a world facing a race against the clock to avert nuclear armageddon.

But there were multiple departures as Trump skewered Biden — and kept twisting — over numerous public statements from elected Democrats in recent days questioning his ability to carry the party to victory in November.

Golf challenge

The former president dared his successor to another debate without moderators and, in a lighter moment that raised a smile from audience members baking in 103-degree Fahrenheit (39-degree Celsius) heat, challenged him to a round of golf.

"It will be among the most watched sporting events in history, maybe bigger than the Ryder Cup or even the Masters," he deadpanned.

"And I will even give Joe Biden 10 strokes a side... and if he wins, I will give the charity of his choice, any charity that he wants, $1 million (around R18.14 million). And I bet you he doesn't take the offer."

The pair had previously sparred over who had a better long game during the debate, and the Biden campaign's response to the latest challenge came in the form of a golf pun.

"Joe Biden doesn't have time for Donald Trump's weird antics — he's busy leading America and defending the free world," it said.

"Donald Trump is a liar, a convict, and a fraud only out for himself par for the course."

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a frontrunner in the contest to be named Trump's running mate at next week's Republican nominating convention in Milwaukee, and he was in the front row to cheer on Trump and deliver brief remarks of his own.

Nearby, a digital billboard underscored the evolution that the Republican Party has undergone under Trump, playing 2016 footage of Rubio eviscerating the man he is hoping to work with for the next four years.

"You all have friends that are thinking about voting for Donald Trump," the now staunchly loyal Rubio was seen telling a crowd in Texas. "Friends do not let friends vote for con artists."