Donald Trump compared himself to Nelson Mandela as he addressed his legal issues in a speech at his latest campaign rally.
The former US president likened himself to the anti-apartheid activist on Monday as he claimed he is being targeted by federal and state prosecutors because of his politics.
Mr Trump, who was in New Hampshire to register for its presidential primary, held a rally where he attacked Joe Biden‘s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict and vowed to build an Iron Dome-inspired defence shield over the States.
However, he focused much of his speech on the criminal and civil cases against him – and suggested he could go to prison as Mandela did.
“I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela because I’m doing it for a reason,” Trump told revved-up supporters in Derry, New Hampshire.
“We’ve got to save our country from these fascists, these lunatics that we’re dealing with. They’re horrible people and they’re destroying our country.”
Mandela, who died in 2013, spent 27 years behind bars for opposing South Africa’s apartheid system. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Allegations against Trump include the claim that he inflated his net worth and misclassified hush money payments made to women during his 2016 presidential campaign.
He is also alleged to have stored classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election loss.
Turning his attention to Mr Biden, Mr Trump told the rally that the president’s recent speech on the conflict in the Middle East was “a grotesque betrayal of Israel” and “one of the most dangerous and deluded speeches ever delivered from the Oval Office”.
Mr Trump’s comments came after he formally filed for the first-in-the-nation primary, where he wrote “Vote for Trump and solve your problems” on the commemorative poster in Concord that all candidates will be asked to sign.
Mr Trump was surrounded by increased security for his visit and only supporters selected by his campaign were allowed to line the Statehouse hallway leading to the secretary of state’s office.
Access to the building was also restricted.
Presidential candidates have until Friday to officially sign up for the primary and dozens are expected to do so.
The process is perhaps unexpectedly simple and individuals who want to be on the ballot only need to meet the basic requirements to be president – including the minimum age – and fill out a one-page form, before paying a $1,000 filing fee.
In 2020, 33 Democrats and 17 Republicans made it onto the ballot.