MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his record governing the nation for four years without any new wars, and criticized President Joe Biden’s foreign policy as the world watches a war that has already claimed 2,300 lives unfold in Gaza, ignited by Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Trump and other Republicans have tried to lay blame on the Biden administration, particularly citing the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen assets to Iran, a supporter of Hamas. Administration officials insist that money has not been spent.
“With crooked Joe Biden, you have chaos, bloodshed, war, terror and death. Look what’s happening today,” Trump told a crowd of supporters in a speech that lasted more than an hour and a half at a convention center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Biden campaign said Trump has been pushing dangerous misinformation about the crisis in Israel at a time when the country should stand together.
“While Trump continues to lie about his record, President Biden is laser-focused on providing steadfast support for Israel and leading on the global stage,” Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said.
Trump spoke to his supporters at the venue near Mar-a-Lago as he campaigns as the front-runner in the 2024 Republican primary race for the White House, despite four criminal cases against him.
Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared at the event but did not speak. Gaetz is a Florida congressional ally who, with other hard-right conservatives, engineered the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The unprecedented action has kept Congress partly shuttered.
Trump has tried to use the power vacuum to underline his lingering influence over the Republican Party, backing Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan to replace McCarthy. However, Republicans on Wednesday nominated House majority leader Steve Scalise to take over the job.
Jordan formed a close alliance with the former president, particularly during the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Biden. Two of the cases against Trump, in Washington and Georgia, are over his efforts to overturn the results.
Trump has continued to travel to early primary states and has been spending much of his time focused on the four criminal indictments and several civil cases he is facing.
He has put pressure on his Republican challengers to drop out of the 2024 primary race to help him defeat Biden. On Tuesday, he criticized GOP candidates for meeting with donors in an event hosted by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who unsuccessfully challenged then-President Barack Obama in 2012 as the Republican presidential nominee, and Paul Ryan, a former congressman who was the House speaker between 2015 and 2019.
“These failed candidates should have started by campaigning effectively, which they didn’t because they don’t have the skill or the talent,” Trump said on his Truth Social site.
Among those 10 Republicans challenging him are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once a strong ally; Mike Pence, his former vice president; and Nikki Haley, who served as United Nations ambassador under Trump.