Biden and Trump hold dueling rallies in battleground Georgia

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This week, former President Donald Trump was declared the presumptive GOP nominee, setting the stage for a rematch election between himself and President Joe Biden.

Now, the two held dueling events Saturday evening in a battleground state that secured Biden’s victory and a Democratic-controlled Senate in 2020: Georgia.

Trump in Rome, Georgia, and President Biden participating in campaign events in Atlanta as the campaign announced plans to aggressively step up its campaign operations.

As the former president continues to campaign heavily on immigration and border security, he used his appearance in Rome to highlight the recent death of Laken Riley, the nursing student from Georgia who was killed.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

Pool via ABC News

At Saturday’s rally, the campaign handed out posters with Riley’s face with the phrases “Remember our angels” and “Say her name” on them. Trump met with Riley’s parents before he took the stage, he said during his speech.

Trump criticized Biden for getting Riley’s name wrong during his State of the Union address and for walking back on using the word “illegal.

“Undocumented person,” Biden said when his use of the word “illegal” was raised in an interview with MSNBC. “And I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal.’ I should’ve – It’s undocumented.”

PHOTO: This combination of pictures created on Oct. 22, 2020 shows former President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, 2020.

This combination of pictures created on Oct. 22, 2020 shows former President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Trump at the rally on Saturday responded to Biden’s apology saying Biden should apologize for apologizing.

“Now he was illegal, and I say he was an illegal alien,” Trump said. “He was an illegal migrant. He was an illegal migrant and he shouldn’t have been in our country and he never would have been under the Trump policy.”

Trump also again offered a scathing review of Biden’s State of the Union address at the rally in Rome, calling it an “angry, dark, hate-filled rant” and mocking his speech, imitating his coughs and stuttering.

“Joe Biden should not be shouting angrily at America,” Trump said. “America should be shouting angrily at Joe Biden.”

Thursday night, Biden used the national stage — one of his biggest before the November election — to confront Republicans and his 2024 rival while laying out his own accomplishments and what else he wants to get done while in office (and if given another four years).

The outlines of his campaign against Trump emerged throughout Thursday’s speech. He worked to send a message covering his stances on the economy, abortion rights, foreign policy and more — putting them on notice that he was ready to fight.

Meanwhile, at his campaign event in Atlanta, Biden said he believes Trump “wants to be a dictator” and criticized the former president for the language he uses to describe undocumented immigrants, pointing specifically to his use of an anti-immigrant phrase that echoes Hitler.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Pullman Yards in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Pullman Yards in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

“Donald Trump calls them ‘vermin’ … ‘poisoning the blood of America.’ No one should ever doubt where my heart is,” Biden said, recalling how he sent an immigration reform bill to Congress on the first day of his presidency before Trump last month instructed Republicans not to pass any Biden-backed immigration reforms.

President Biden said on Saturday that it would be a “red line” for Israel to invade Rafah, but that he won’t walk away from Israel or cut them off from U.S. aid.

“It is a red line,” Biden said in the MSNBC interview. “But I’m never gonna leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical.”

“So, there’s no red line I’m gonna cut off all weapons so that they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them,” Biden said.

The dueling events come as the general election race ramps up, both candidates taking time to acknowledge the importance of winning the battleground state in order to clinch a victory in 2024.

“Three years ago, you helped the Democratic ticket and won Georgia a presidential election for the first time in 30 years,” Biden said, going on to tell his supporters, “You’re the reason why we’re gonna win.”

“Look, if we win Georgia, we’re gonna win the election,” Trump boomed.

Trump won the Peach State in 2016 when he ran against Hillary Clinton, and in 2020, as Biden was projected to win the state, Trump and his allies pushed to overturn the election results in the state, efforts that are now at the center of a criminal case, charges which he denies.

The former president has cemented his third presidential bid around his legal indictments and, in recent weeks, has taken aim at Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as he and his co-defendants are attempting to disqualify her from her investigation over alleged misconduct allegations stemming from a relationship with Willis had with a prosecutor she brought onto the case, Nathan Wade.

The judge is expected to rule by the end of next week on whether or not to remove Willis from the case. Trump however argued the case should be dropped altogether.

“The case is totally compromised,” Trump said on Saturday. “But we don’t need to get rid of her and then put somebody else in there. It’s unfair to all those people that got indicted.”

While Georgia politicians, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Collins, and Lt. Gov Burt Jones attended Trump’s Saturday rally, noticeably absent was Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who broke from Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.”

Kemp has been critical of Trump’s conduct and has warned if he focuses on relitigating the results of the last election — rather than his vision for the future — he could lose the 2024 election.

Biden was also joined by Georgia allies: Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who both emphasized the importance of getting out to vote by reminding supporters how the state made an impact for their party in 2020.

“The eyes of the nation rested on Georgia,” Sen. Ossoff said talking about Georgia’s runoff elections which decided the balance of the Senate. “Georgia made the difference. Georgia delivered the White House for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Georgia delivered the Senate majority by sending the young Jewish son of an immigrant and a black pastor who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

ABC News’ Libby Cathey and Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.

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