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Trump speaks at campaign event in North Carolina, calling his rallies "peaceful protests"

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President Trump hit on familiar themes at a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Tuesday, as he hopes to win the state again in November. In 2016, Mr. Trump won the state by almost 4 percentage points, but current polling shows him lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden. 

North Carolina has capped outdoor gatherings at 50 people due to COVID-19, so the campaign event would appear to violate those rules. Some protesters held signs that said "this is a peaceful protest" and "peaceful protesters," reflecting an argument from Mr. Trump and his supporters that if protesters can gather in the hundreds, so can they. 

"We decided to call all our rallies peaceful protests," Mr. Trump said, explaining how his campaign is skirting gathering restrictions in states like North Carolina. 

The president insisted, as he has in the past, that America would be a more dangerous place under a Joe Biden presidency. 

"We're going to be appointing very pro-crime judges," Mr. Trump said, apparently meaning anti-crime judges. "But they want to destroy your suburbs."

The president also insisted Kamala Harris would make a terrible president, were she to ever rise to that post. Mr. Trump has also called her incompetent in the past, without offering any substantiating reasons. 

"You know what? People don't like her. Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country," Mr. Trump said. 

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem
Supporters, one wearing a shirt with U.S. President Donald Trump's face, react as Trump speaks during a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., September 8, 2020. Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

Mr. Trump also encouraged North Carolina voters to show up at the polls after voting absentee, "to make sure it counts." Voting twice is illegal. He's encouraged voters to vote by mail and come in person before, as he slams mass voting by mail. 

An August CBS News poll of likely voters found Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is beating Mr. Trump, 48% to 44%. 

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump stopped by another battleground state — Florida. Mr. Trump won the Sunshine State in 2016, and it's a key state for him in 2020. There, the president touted himself as a great environmentalist.

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