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‘Yeah, I said that.’ Mark Robinson embraced Trump’s false claims on 2020 election

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor in 2024, and could receive the endorsement of former President Donald Trump at an event at Mar-a-Lago next week. Trump faces a slew of criminal charges related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, which President Joe Biden won.

Trump continues to push false claims about the election, and an audio recording obtained by The News & Observer shows Robinson has embraced those claims.

Robinson, who has endorsed Trump, said in a speech at a church in 2021 that Biden “stole the election,” the recording shows.

Robinson spoke in the cadence of a sermon, focused on what he described as “demonic” television full of bad news. He preached to members of the Beulah Baptist Church congregation in Bennett for about 45 minutes, telling them that they should turn off the television and stand up for stances he believes they should take: against abortion, ”transgenderism” and ”indoctrination” in schools, and in support of Second Amendment gun rights.

He advised his audience not to listen to what’s on television about what Black people cannot accomplish, giving himself as an example for reaching the office of lieutenant governor in spite of growing up in poverty and around domestic violence and crime. Robinson is the first Black lieutenant governor in North Carolina.

FILE - Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. Anthony Robert Williams, of Michigan, was sentenced on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, to five years in federal prison for his role in the U.S. Capitol attack by a mob that disrupted Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

His words about Biden and the election came about 20 minutes into the speech as he talked about what he described as the “obvious goodness in this nation,” and people helping others.

“When you’re in trouble, folks will come running. Because in this nation, we believe in helping each other, and we believe in doing the right thing. Let somebody come over here and come attack this nation. Lord, I hate to see it. See, those folks right now on that television tell you that patriotism is dead. They’ll tell you its body is laying dead in Washington, D.C.,” Robinson pausing for a second before continuing:

“Right up there outside one of them fences that Joe Biden put up to protect himself from people because they were so mad, because he stole the election. Yeah, I said that,” Robinson said, which was followed by applause.

The federal government installed fencing after the Jan. 6, 2021, riots and attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when rioters wanting to overturn the results of the 2020 election broke into the building and attacked law enforcement, resulting in the deaths of four people and extensive property destruction. The fencing eventually came down.

FILE - In this file photo from Jan. 6, 2021, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier during the deadly riots at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
FILE - In this file photo from Jan. 6, 2021, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier during the deadly riots at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Rioters, and Trump, were unsuccessful in overturning the 2020 election that Biden won, with investigations across the country proving that Biden was legitimately elected.

Several rioters have been sentenced to jail time as a result. Trump and 18 other people are charged in connection with what authorities say was an illegal scheme in Georgia trying to overturn the election, the Associated Press reported.

Robinson has implied before that the election results were illegitimate. In a 2022 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, Robinson said “I don’t care what you tell me, 83,000 people did not vote for Joe Biden. I don’t think 83 million people know who Joe Biden is.”

Robinson campaign response

Asked about Robinson’s comments in the 2021 speech, his campaign spokesperson pointed to times Democrats have questioned election results.

“Josh Stein has proudly touted an endorsement from notorious election denier Stacey Abrams, who’s pushed false claims about election results for years,” Mike Lonergan, communications director for Robinson’s campaign, told The N&O in an emailed statement.

Lonergan also pointed to Stein and Cooper going to a conference with Abrams, and North Carolina congressional Democrats voting for U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to lead them. Republicans have criticized Jeffries as an election denier because of his calling the 2016 election “illegitimate” related to Russian interference.

“Democrats have questioned the legitimacy of every presidential election this century that they haven’t won this century — 2000, 2004 and 2016,” Lonergan said. He asked for more reporting on Democrats’ record of questioning election results. He did not address what Robinson said.

Trump fundraiser

Robinson is seeking Trump’s endorsement On Tuesday, Robinson and Trump will co-host an event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. The National Review reported that Robinson and Trump will appear together.

Trump has promised that he will endorse Robinson, the Associated Press reported in June, telling him from the stage of the NCGOP convention, “You can count on it, Mark.”

Robinson is a longtime Trump supporter, speaking at past rallies for Trump and those aligned with the MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson greets supporters after announcing his candidacy for Governor of North Carolina on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at Ace Speedway in Elon, N.C.
North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson greets supporters after announcing his candidacy for Governor of North Carolina on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at Ace Speedway in Elon, N.C.

Robinson’s speeches at church

Robinson has a history of inflammatory comments, on social media posts and in speeches he frequently gives to churches. In July this year, he questioned climate change and said gender identity issues are bringing the country to “Hell’s gates.”

Robinson has also made antisemitic comments, but he walked those back, most recently this fall when Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was on an economic development trip in Japan and Robinson used his ability as acting governor to issue a proclamation supporting Israel. Robinson said then that he has “never been antisemitic.”

Robinson, however, has not walked back any of his frequent disparaging comments about LGBTQ+ people, which he repeated again in the 2021 Beulah Baptist speech, saying anyone “teaching children about homosexuality and transgenderism” in the classroom are “perverts.”

The campaign for governor

Robinson is the frontrunner in the Republican primary for governor, which is March 5. His opponents are State Treasurer Dale Folwell, businessman Bill Graham and former state Sen. Andy Wells.

Robinson has yet to debate any of them, which Graham has criticized. In October, Robinson told CBS 17 that he will “absolutely not” debate other Republicans in the primary.

Folwell has contrasted himself with Folwell by saying that his own campaign is one of “courage,” not “rage.”

The lieutenant governor recently garnered the endorsement of Republican Senate leader Phil Berger, one of the most powerful politicians in the state. Asked about Robinson’s previous comments about LGBTQ+ people, Berger said “they’re not things that I would have said.”

In the Democratic primary for governor, state Attorney General Josh Stein is the frontrunner, and often focuses his speeches on defeating Robinson. When Stein and Democratic primary opponent Mike Morgan, a retired N.C. Supreme Court justice, spoke recently to the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC, Stein said that Robinson is among those who promote “the big lie” that Biden did not win the election.