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Trump says North Carolina rally considered ‘peaceful protest’ after hosting without mask

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A maskless President Donald Trump campaigned in North Carolina Tuesday, where a large crowd of supporters gathered to greet him, many without wearing face coverings despite the state’s mask mandate.

Trump told the thousands assembled outdoors at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem that his rally should be considered a peaceful protest to avoid violating state rules limiting the size of public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump addresses a crowd during a campaign rally at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The president claimed that Democratically-run states limited the size of campaign events to damage him.

“You can’t go to church,” Trump said. “But if you are willing to riot … you are allowed to do that because you’re considered a peaceful protester. So we decided to call all of our rallies peaceful protests.”

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Trump also asserted that Democrats were using state mask mandates and business closures as political tools against him.

“On Nov. 4, every one of those states will be open,” he said, “They’re doing it for political reasons.”

America tops the world in COVID-19 cases, with a reported 6.35 million.

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Trump mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was photographed late last month inside a hair salon in her native San Francisco with a mask around her neck. Salons in the city are only allowed to perform services outside.

At a press conference days later, Pelosi claimed that the photo op was a “setup.”

The president also spent most of the rally attempting to rile up his base with some of the same rhetoric that he utilized in 2016. He railed about “fake news” media. He insulted Democrats with nicknames. He even brought up the border wall, continuing to falsely claim that Mexico was paying for it.

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Trump also appeared to intentionally mispronounce the first name of Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Politico notes that he correctly pronounced her name earlier in his remarks and has done so in some White House briefings.

“Nobody likes her,” Trump said. “She could never be your first woman president. That would be an insult to our country.”

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