As the former president repeated familiar, baseless claims about previous elections being rigged and stolen from him, he told attendees in Derry they should monitor other voters instead of casting their own ballots.
"So we have to be careful, you gotta get out there and you got to watch those voters," Mr Trump said. "You don’t have to vote, don’t worry about voting. The voting, we got plenty of votes, you gotta watch."
The comments prompted criticism from a member of the Ron DeSantis campaign.
“This is the type of talk that loses elections,” press secretary Bryan Griffin wrote on X.
A Trump campaign spokesperson later told Insider the remarks were not a literal call not to vote, but rather a warning about election security.
"He was clearly talking about election integrity and making sure only legal votes are counted, and not letting what happened in 2020 happen again,” the campaign official said.
Mr Trump compared his thoroughly discredited fight against the 2020 election to the work of South African anti-apartheid figure Nelson Mandela.
“If you want to challenge the result of an election, they hound you,” Mr Trump said. “But we don’t get scared — we don’t get scared. I’ll tell you what, I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela, because I’m doing it for a reason.”
Prior to his speech, Mr Trump – who had a lengthy record of legal battles even before his time in national office, when he was impeached twice, and his post-presidency, where he has been indicted multiple times by state and federal officials – said the word indictment was practically never used until the Biden administration.
“We did nothing wrong,” Mr Trump said. “This is all Biden. Indictments, impeachments. This is all about Biden. You can’t do anything right. The only thing they know how to do is cheat on elections, election fraud. This is all Biden stuff, all of these indictments in DC. I was never indicted. You practically never heard the word, it wasn’t a word that registered.”
Mr Trump has gotten in hot water with members of his party before for the potential impact of his frequent attacks on the integrity of US elections.
During his own 2020 presidential campaign, and a close US Senate race in Georgia that ended in an upset for the Republicans, some blamed Mr Trump’s unrelenting election conspiracies for GOP losses.
"Telling everyone that the race was stolen when it wasn’t cost the Republicans two Senate seats," conservative Georgia political commentator Erick Erickson said at the time. "The going all-in on the cult of personality around President Trump hurt them as a result. They had to play up this, ‘There’s no way Donald Trump could have lost. It had to be stolen from him.’”
At the time of the elections, Mr Trump was leading an all-out public campaign against the 2020 results, and Trump campaign allies like attorney Lin Wood suggested people shouldn’t vote in the Georgia Senate race.
"Do not be fooled twice. This is Georgia, we ain’t dumb. We ain’t gonna go vote on Jan. 5 on another machine made by China," he said in one election-season speech. "You’re not gonna fool Georgians again."