Donald Trump endorses Mark Robinson for governor in NC visit

The former president also lobbed attacks at Joe Biden’s immigration record

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Saturday in Greensboro ahead of Tuesday’s primary elections in North Carolina. (PJ Ward-Brown / North State Journal)

GREENSBORO — Former president Donald Trump endorsed North Carolina Lt. Gov Mark Robinson for governor on Saturday, several months after the former president pledged to do so.

At a rally at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, the former president also compared Robinson, who is black, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the famed civil rights leader. He referred to Robinson as “Martin Luther King on steroids.”

Trump said Robinson wasn’t sure how to respond when Trump compared him to the legendary civil rights leader, telling him: “I think you’re better than Martin Luther King. I think you are Martin Luther King times two.”

“You should like it,” Trump said.

Trump listed Robinson among several candidates that people should vote for in Tuesday’s North Carolina Republican primaries, saying “they have my complete and total endorsement.” Trump is also on the primary ballot as he seeks to all but eliminate his last remaining rival, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, from mathematical contention for the GOP nomination.

“We’re going to keep going and we’re going to keep pushing,” Haley said in an event of her own in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon.

Trump called Robinson, who also spoke at Saturday’s rally, an “incredible gentleman” and “great, natural speaker.” Trump recalled, with some imprecision, how Robinson rose to fame following a 2018 speech to the Greensboro City Council in support of gun rights and police that went viral.

That led Robinson to a National Rifle Association board position and being elected the state’s first black lieutenant governor in 2020 in his first bid for public office.

Robinson, a Greensboro native, said in a news release that he was “humbled” to have Trump’s endorsement and looked forward to working with Trump to “lead our united Republican ticket to victory in November, and get our state and country back on track.”

State Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton said the endorsement wasn’t a surprise. “Our state needs a leader who will bring people together and do the hard work of governing, not prioritize job-killing culture wars that take our state backward.”

Trump also used the rally to attack President Joe Biden — his likely competition in the general election — on his border policies, charging that “every day Joe Biden is giving aid and comfort to foreign enemies of the United States.”

“Biden’s conduct on our border is by any definition a conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America,” he said. “Biden and his accomplices want to collapse the American system, nullify the will of the actual American voters and establish a new base of power that gives them control for generations.”

“Once again Trump is projecting in an attempt to distract the American people from the fact he killed the fairest and toughest border security bill in decades because he believed it would help his campaign. Sad,” Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement.

Much of Trump’s speech in Greensboro focused on the slew of criminal charges he faces. While the former president has successfully harnessed his legal woes into a powerful rallying cry in the primaries, it is unclear how his message of grievance will resonate with the more moderate voters who will likely decide the general election.

“I stand before you today not only as your past and hopefully future president, but as a proud political dissident and a public enemy of a rogue regime,” Trump said, railing against what he called an “anti-Democratic machine.”

As he focuses on the general election, Trump has painted an apocalyptic vision of the country under Biden, particularly on the topic of immigration, which was the animating issue of his 2016 campaign and which he has once again seized on as the U.S. has experienced a record influx of migrants at the border.

On Saturday, Trump conjured images of Biden turning “public schools into migrant camps” and “the USA into a crime-ridden, disease-ridden dumping ground, which is what they’re doing.”

Trump won North Carolina twice but watched his margin of victory shrink. Biden’s reelection campaign already has staff on the ground hoping to flip the state for the first time since 2008.

In North Carolina, a festive atmosphere surrounded the Greensboro Coliseum Complex ahead of Trump’s rally. Supporters stood in a line that snaked through a web of metal barricades and extended hundreds of yards from the arena.

“We just love Trump,” said, Mary Welborn, who lives in nearby Thomasville and expressed that she was frustrated by the criminal prosecutions and civil judgments against the former president. “The way he’s being treated is insane. No other president has been treated this way,” she said.