Donald Trump urged voters to get out to the Iowa caucuses even if they are “sick as a dog” in a defiant rally on the eve of his first major election test.
The former president said that even if people “passed away” shortly after voting it would be “worth it”, and once again launched attacks on the New York judge who had denied him a delay in his civil trial so that he could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.
His remarks came during an in-person rally in Indianola on Sunday afternoon. Mr Trump was previously forced to swap out other planned events in Iowa with tele-rallies due to severe bad weather conditions in the state.
“You can’t stay at home,” he told those gathered. “[Even} if you’re sick as a dog and you say ‘darling I can’t make it…’
“Even if you vote and then pass away it’s worth it.”
Elsewhere Mr Trump appeared to get his words muddled as he told people to “pray for God” and later described judge Kaplan as “the worst judge in the country”.
Echoing his previous remarks and posts on his social media platform Truth Social, he said: “My wife’s mother, who was an incredible woman of great beauty inside and out… she just died.
“And my wife is very devastated by that. And I have a trial going on a fake trial, a totally fake trial. And we asked the judge if I could take a day off for the funeral of my mother in law, who is very close to me also. And he said, ‘No’.”
He continued: “These are animals. Can you imagine that?... He said no, we can’t have a day off. These are bad people. These are radical left lunatics and when I hurt me, because they think it’s gonna hurt me at the poll so that by me can win an election.
“I don’t think that people are going to fall for it. But think of that… my wife was going to be standing at the funeral of her mother who is a very special woman… She’s supposed to stand there alone.”
Mr Trump vowed to be at the funeral “one way or another”.
A final poll by NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom on Saturday showed Mr Trump commanding 48 per cent of the vote in Iowa, with Ms Haley taking 20 per cent and Mr DeSantis on 16 per cent.
The numbers from the poll tally with those of national poll site FiveThirtyEight, which had Mr Trump at 51.3 per cent as of Saturday.