Donald Trump gave a rambling speech to an under-capacity crowd of 6,000 people in Ohio’s Youngstown on Saturday, during which he dished out a series of humiliating jibes to mock venture capitalist JD Vance, his own pick for the state’s tight US Senate race.
The former president compared the Republican candidate to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at one point and said “JD is kissing my a**” now for support.
“This is a very important race,” Mr Trump said to a crowd at the Youngstown Covelli Centre. “This is a great person who I’ve really gotten to know.
“Yeah, he said some bad things about me, that was before he knew me and then he fell in love,” Mr Trump said.
“Remember, I said that about Kim Jong-un, he fell in love, and they said Trump is saying he fell in love – actually he did if you want to know the truth.”
The two world leaders’ relationship brought optimism for a breakthrough in denuclearisation talks between North Korea and the US after Mr Trump once said that he and Mr Kim “fell in love”. They met three times and exchanged letters and envoys on many occasions since 2018, although talks ultimately bore little fruit before Mr Trump was voted out in 2020.
Mr Trump was referring to Mr Vance’s reported remarks from six years ago, when the candidate had called Mr Trump “America’s Hitler”.
The venture capitalist and “Hillbilly Elegy” author said at the time: “I go back and forth between thinking Trump is a cynical a**hole like Nixon who wouldn’t be that bad … or that he’s America’s Hitler,” according to his former Yale Law School roommate.
Mr Vance reportedly deleted this criticism from his Twitter feed before announcing his Senate campaign bid against Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan.
Mr Trump’s bizarre speech also included a reference to the Chinese president. He reiterated his call for the death penalty for all drug dealers, repeating an anecdote of a conversation he had with Xi Jinping.
One of the most applause-garnering lines of the bizarre speech came when the ex-president insisted that far-left radicals were “teaching transgender” to American students, the latest attempt by the right to smear teachers as agents of a leftist agenda.
His speech delved into what is now a familiar litany of grievances, grudges, and complaints about the myriad investigations into his conduct by federal and state prosecutors in Washington DC, Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere.