SELMA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Former president Donald Trump held a rally in Johnston County Saturday night, speaking for a little over an hour alongside several North Carolina lawmakers who he's endorsed.
Appearing at The Farm at 95 in Selma, which has become a popular stop for Republican candidates, the President highlighted a number of candidates he's backing in the upcoming election, including Congressman Ted Budd for Senate, as well as Congressman Madison Cawthorn, Congressman Dr. Greg Murphy, Congressman Dan Bishop, and congressional candidate Bo Hines.
While the candidates spoke earlier in the day, joined by Lt. Governor Mark Robinson and a recorded video message from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Trump took the stage shortly after 7:00 p.m.
"I'm thrilled to be back in the great state of North Carolina with thousands of proud hard-working American patriots," said Trump.
Last June, Trump publicly endorsed Budd at an NCGOP event in Greenville; Saturday, he continued to do so, taking a swipe at one of his key challengers, former Governor Pat McCrory, and calling Budd back on-stage.
"President Trump knows that we need conservative fighters in the Senate who will not waver from America First principles (10). Now others seeking this Republican nomination, they might cave, but you can count on me to stay strong," said Budd.
Budd, who has been criticized for his decision to skip debates against fellow primary candidates, is facing off against several opponents besides McCrory, including fellow Congressman Mark Walker and veteran Marjorie Eastman, amongst others.
Trump carried North Carolina in 2016 and 2020, though the most recent election was by a smaller margin than the former; at one point, he teased a potential 2024 run to applause from the crowd.
The former president has ramped up travel over the past few months, stopping in several states, holding rallies, often alongside candidates he's supporting.
"With your vote this November, we can stop our nation's decline. We can make America great again," exclaimed Trump.
Congressman Cawthorn's appearance at the event comes as he faces mounting blowback from members of his own party, including in North Carolina, for multiple controversial comments. In one instance, he referred to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy as a "thug", and in another, alleged Congressional colleagues participated in orgies and used cocaine.
Cawthorn did not address his remarks during his speech Saturday afternoon, though discussed what he described as softening stances to appeal to "middle-ground voters."
"The key to saving our nation is not going after these voters that don't exist but going after the disenfranchised man and woman in our country. The people who don't even bother to vote because it's been proven to them time and time again that the government will never work on their behalf," said Cawthorn.
Early voting starts Thursday, April 28th, and the primary is Tuesday, May 17th.