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Bolsonaro seeks to rev up his support with motorcycle rally

BRASILIA, BRAZIL (AP) – President Jair Bolsonaro (AP; pic below) led thousands of motorcyclists on a campaign ride through Brazil’s most populous state on Friday, seeking to drum up support ahead of October’s elections as he trails in early opinion polls.

Bolsonaro, wearing a black leather jacket, piloted a Honda cycle during the rally that motored about 130 kilometres from Sao Paulo city to Americana. Officials of Sao Paulo state gave no estimate on the number of participants, many of whom carried Brazilian flags or wore the national colours of green and yellow.

“He is a popular president, who is among the people, and the majority is on his side. We have to have these movements in the streets that show what the truth is,” said 42-year-old supporter Leandro Rosa who joined in the rally with his son Leonardo, 16, on the back of his motorcycle.

Bolsonaro is focussing much of his campaign attention in Sao Paulo state. Some of his Cabinet ministers resigned in recent weeks to run for Senate seats representing the state and to seek its governorship and are expected to stump for his re-election.

He got more than two-thirds of the votes in the state in the 2018 election, but a survey released this week by pollster Ipespe put him in a close race in Sao Paulo with his main opponent, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Da Silva recently tapped Sao Paulo’s former governor Geraldo Alckmin as his running mate.

For Brazil as a whole, opinion polls have shown Bolsonaro trailing da Silva, but recently the gap has been narrowing.

Motorcycle rallies by Bolsonaro supporters became popular last year, with events staged in numerous cities across Brazil as a Senate committee began investigating his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.