Yesterday I attended Donald Trump’s rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, my hometown.
The Trump campaign announced the event on Thursday and I immediately went online to get a couple of tickets. I also applied for press credentials but for some reason they denied me. They didn’t like my “Naked Trump” cartoons? It was OK not receiving press credentials as I wanted to mingle among the freaks, I mean, Trump supporters. The first thing you want to do when going into a snake pit, a lions den, or a giant flaming outhouse, is bring a friend.
So I asked a friend, then another friend, then another friend, and then another friend. I couldn’t understand why none of my friends wanted to go. I put out a feeler to my friends on Facebook. None of them wanted to go but some had really good excuses, like they had to stay home and manscape that day. Several people who fled the city said they would have gone with me if they were in town. It’s like I sent out invitations to visit a leper colony.
Finally a friend wanted to go, but it was more like I was leaving him a ticket which meant I was still going alone. Then, someone I had asked previously changed her mind and we went together. And it was perfect as not only is she one of my favorite people, but I got to go to a Trump rally with a liberal Jew named Hilary.
We expected to have a lot of fun and unleash our sarcasm and mockery. Hilary wanted to used a pseudonym. We didn’t intend to cheer, boo, or protest. We wanted the experience. We wanted to give the Trump fans respect. We also didn’t want to go in announcing we were not voting for Trump.
The line was pretty long and it was in the heat. We didn’t see many signs or screaming people at the beginning. There were some individuals collecting signatures to steal your social security and the Trump team was recruiting volunteers while people sweated in line. Then the salesmen came.
The people selling Trump schwag were not with the Trump campaign. If we were smart we would have bought umbrellas and written Trump on them. We would have made a killing.
The people were very nice. Well, nice for hating Hillary Clinton and President Obama. They were talking about their views in line, like Clinton should be in prison, Black Lives Matter is a bunch of racists, and Northern Virginia will go for Trump. What?
We didn’t see any protesters until we left and they were a small group down the street. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of them as were moving and they were standing by a stop light at an intersection. We did see a lot of man buns. What’s up with man buns? When is that going away?
We ran into a few people we knew, who were Trump people. We took photos of those in shirts and outfits we found interesting and I asked permission each time. Everyone said yes. They were proud.
None of them could give us a good reason they were supporting Trump. All we heard was that he’s rich, successful, going to make American great again, and that Hillary Clinton is a liar and should be in prison.
The Expo Center, where the event was staged, can hold 3,400 people according to its website. To be honest, it was about half full. Security staff said 3,600 people were admitted and hundreds more were outside (and when we left there were people still in line). There weren’t any chairs except for a few to the side for the elderly and handicapped. Many people chose to sit on the floor and we joined them for a while as we got tired of standing around for several hours. I was surprised the campaign wasn’t selling pins, buttons, shirts, inside. There were two vendors selling BBQ sandwiches, pretzels, chips, candy, and soda.
Everyone we encountered was friendly and though we rolled our eyes a bit at what they said, and found some of it hateful, we didn’t find it an atmosphere with negative energy…and then Trump came out. The mood changed really quickly.
Remember the third Indiana Jones movie where he and his dad end up at a Nazi book burning in Berlin? I’m not saying it was that hateful but it did come to mind when the “lock her up” and “build a wall” chants started.
Trump, who many in the crowd described to us a genius, came out and said to the Fredericksburg crowd “So Fairfax, on Nov. 8, you’ve got to get out and vote.” At least he didn’t think he was in Michigan, which is where the campaign had put Fredericksburg a few days before.
He told the seven black people in attendance that he wants the GOP to be home for black voters again. He complained about Obama’s “ransom” to Iran, “Crooked Hillary,” and that Tim Kaine was never popular as governor which I found interesting since Kaine was elected to the senate afterward. Currently with Kaine on Clinton’s ticket, Virginia is giving them a double digit lead over Trump in the polls. Which polls? All of them.
And then we left. After about five minutes of Trump barking and the crowd sounding kinda like a Nuremberg rally, we knew we didn’t fit in and it was time to go.
I spent the rest of the feeling dejected, disappointed, and kinda nasty. Hilary wanted to go home and soak her entire body in sanitizer. Trump is going to lose this election by astronomical numbers. The problem is that those people at the rally will still be around hating. And they’re in my community.
This was the first group we encountered with a banner. They were more than happy to pose for us.
She was very happy.
Five bucks for a button. I think the hats were $20 and these entrepreneurs were selling them from a car which allowed for a quick escape each time security came around.
I actually know this kid. He was a student of mine ten years ago when I taught a summer class at a local elementary. I didn’t realize it was him until after I took the photo and he called me out. Hi, Colin. Good to see you again. You grew up.
This very pretty girl really hates Hillary Clinton.
This gentlemen was serenading the line with a tune about freedom, eagles, and waving flags. He as playing a Fender. Geeks like me notice things like that.
These very young ladies really want a president with balls. I hope they didn’t see those statues.
This was near the stage and yet they were able to pop a squat.
Others chose to lean against the wall. As I said before, there weren’t any seats.
The media pit. The journalists at the right end of the first table are from my former newspaper, The Free Lance-Star. That’s Jeff Branscome seated and Suzanne Carr (exceptional photographer) standing. I totally forgot the name of the other reporter as he was hired after I was laid off. I couldn’t find Hallie Jackson from MSNBC so I didn’t do any stalking.
I did find Betsy. I asked to take her photo and she insisted I be included. This is the first photo I’ve posted of myself in a few years. I’m really anti-selfies. It’s not a selfie if someone else takes it. If 3,600 people got into the event, then Betsy was photographed 3,600 times. She even took a pic with FLS photog Peter Cihelka. I didn’t get Betsy’s number but I think Pete might have.
Hilary took this photo. These shorts were really tight. Be glad we did not take a photo from the front. OK, this is the only person who wasn’t asked if we could take his photo.
Another Clinton fan.
The campaign was handing out these signs. The idea is everyone will wave them and it’ll be seen on the news stations. We took one but after a couple minutes we had to give it back as our hands were burning.
I could not get a good pic of Trump (can anyone?) and Hilary captured this one. As you may see, we got teleprompter Trump.
Here’s another photo taken by Hilary. Now if anyone wants to argue crowd size, here’s proof. This was not taken before Trump started speaking. This was taken WHILE Trump was speaking. You could have had a basketball game simultaneously. Half empty building yet there were still people in line. Trump spoke for about 40 minutes and I hope everyone waiting outside got to see him for a second. See how much empathy I have? I hope the hateful got to see their fascist hero.
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