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Trump proposes eliminating taxes on tips at Las Vegas campaign rally

By Alayna Treene, Kristen Holmes and Kate Sullivan, CNN

(CNN) — Donald Trump proposed eliminating taxes on tips at a Sunday campaign rally in Las Vegas as he looks to win over voters in a critical swing state that has a sizable number of service industry workers.

The proposal — which came at the presumptive GOP nominee’s first campaign rally since his historic conviction in his New York hush money trial last month — was immediately slammed by the state’s powerful Culinary Union as “wild campaign promises from a convicted felon.”

The former president’s Las Vegas visit follows a flurry of stops that included high-dollar fundraisers in California and a campaign town hall in Arizona. On Saturday night, he attended a fundraiser in Las Vegas hosted by construction equipment tycoon Don Ahern, a longtime ally.

Trump co-campaign manager Chris LaCivita said Sunday the campaign and the Republican National Committee raised a total of $27.5 million from the four fundraisers Trump attended in recent days in California and Nevada.

Trump’s excursion out West comes at a critical juncture for his campaign as it looks to shift the narrative to his general election message after a seven-week criminal trial that culminated in his conviction on 34 felony counts related to a hush money scheme to pay off a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

During his visit to Las Vegas, the Trump campaign also launched a new “Latino Americans for Trump” coalition, as it looks to increase its outreach to Hispanic voters ahead of November’s election. The decision to launch the new program in Nevada was no coincidence.

Recent polling has indicated a noticeable shift toward Trump among Hispanic voters, who have traditionally voted Democratic. In a state like Nevada, where Latino voters make up a sizable portion of the electorate, siphoning away some of them could help deliver Trump the critical battleground state, and potentially the White House. Nevada has backed the Democratic nominee for president in four consecutive elections – but Joe Biden carried it by just 2 points in 2020.

“Some of us believe that we might be better positioned in Nevada [this cycle] than we are even in Georgia,” one source close to Trump told CNN ahead of the rally.

Trump campaign sources pointed specifically to the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for their optimism. Nevada was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, given its dependence on tourism and hospitality.

One senior adviser said ahead of the event that there are also plans to try to work with the state’s Culinary Workers Union, which has traditionally worked closely with Democrats as part of a massive get-out-the-vote operation crafted by late Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. Last month, the union unendorsed several Democratic state lawmakers over their votes to remove Covid-era cleaning requirements placed on the casino industry.

“When I get to office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips,” Trump said at his rally. “We’re going to do that right away, first thing in office because it’s been a point of contention for years and years and years and you do a great job of service — you take care of people.”

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 pushed back on Trump’s promise, which would need congressional approval, on Sunday. “For decades, the Culinary Union has fought for tipped workers’ rights and against unfair taxation,” Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a statement. “Relief is definitely needed for tip earners, but Nevada workers are smart enough to know the difference between real solutions and wild campaign promises from a convicted felon.”

A critical moment

As he did at his Phoenix town hall last week hosted by conservative group Turning Point Action, Trump on Sunday also railed against his conviction and touted the fundraising boon it’s been for his campaign.

In a series of interviews over the past week, Trump has refused to back away from his threats to seek retaliation against his political opponents if he wins the presidency.

“Well, revenge does take time. I will say that,” Trump said in an interview with psychologist Phil McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil. “And sometimes revenge can be justified. Phil, I have to be honest. You know, sometimes it can.”

And while he called the people in prison for breaking into the Capitol on January 6, 2021, “warriors” and continued to falsely claim that the rioters were invited into the Capitol by police, Trump on Sunday also focused on immigration, which his team views as a core vulnerability for Biden ahead of November.

In a potential attempt to address that vulnerability, Biden announced an executive action last week giving him the authority to effectively shut down the US-Mexico border to asylum seekers entering illegally when a daily threshold of crossings is exceeded. Trump bashed Biden repeatedly over the move during his Phoenix speech, calling it “bullsh*t” and vowing to revoke the new asylum restrictions if reelected.

The Senate factor

In addition to a marquee presidential race, Nevada is also playing host this year to what is expected to be one of the country’s most competitive Senate contests as Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen seeks a second term.

Trump has faced pressure to back Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who was severely burned by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, ahead of Tuesday’s GOP primary. And while he briefly complimented Brown at Sunday’s rally, he didn’t endorse him until hours later in a post on Truth Social.

“Sam has already proven his Love for our Country, being horrifically wounded, and making the Comeback of a Lifetime,” the former president wrote. “Sam Brown has my Complete and Total Endorsement – HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN!”

Asked by CNN earlier Sunday whether he expected an endorsement, Brown — who was at the rally handing out water — said, “I’m just focused on getting through Tuesday. President Trump’s got a lot on his plate too. I just know that coming through Tuesday, we’re all going to be focused on November 5.”

In April, Trump posted on social media that Brown and the former president were the “Clear Choices of Nevada’s Republican Voters and Donors.” But Trump loyalists have bashed Brown for his ties to mainstream Republicans – he was personally recruited to run by Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the head of the Senate GOP campaign arm. Instead, they have encouraged the former president to back Jeff Gunter, Trump’s former ambassador to Iceland.

Ahern, who hosted the event at his luxury boutique hotel, backed Brown when he unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for the state’s other Senate seat in 2022. But Ahern has thrown his support behind Gunter this cycle and has encouraged Trump to do the same.

Dangerous conditions

Trump’s campaign, which has been holding outdoor rallies more frequently in recent months, was bracing for extreme heat on Sunday as temperatures were expected to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

In preparation, the Trump campaign doubled the amount of emergency medical staff on site for the rally, added new misting fans and significantly increased the amount of water available to attendees, according to a Trump campaign official.

The official said the campaign would provide more than 38,000 bottles of water, 20 Power Breezer misting fans throughout the venue in Sunset Park in Las Vegas, at least one cooling tent with air conditioning and pop-up umbrella tents throughout the space. More metal detectors were also expected to be added to help expedite security lines.

The new precautions came after 12 people were transported to the hospital from Trump’s campaign event in Phoenix due to heat-related illness, a spokeswoman for the Phoenix Fire Department told CNN.

This story has been updated with Trump’s endorsement of Sam Brown.

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