To understand what is drawing thousands to Trump rallies, the AJT attended his Nov. 4 visit to Macon.
Several months ago, hearing that there was going to be a “blue wave,” President Trump made an executive decision to use his energy, status and following to build support for Republican candidates in the midterms, most notably for gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. Since his visits bring forth people and energy, Trump strategically arranged rallies all over the political map to make a difference in this year’s elections.
President Trump was scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. at a Middle Georgia Regional Airport hangar in Macon, finish in an hour, and then fly to Chattanooga to do another rally. Arriving at 11 a.m., we were impressed with the size of the lines already in place of people “camping out” to get the best positions near the president. Sitting in folding chairs they had brought, eating their breakfast, some had begun their journey in the middle of the night to arrive by 5:30 a.m.
Though President Trump announced the Macon rally only days before, the amount of media covering the event was noteworthy. While on the media platform, I met both local, national and foreign press. News broadcasters came from as far away as Australia and Japan. There was Sean Lin from NTDTV (New Tang Dynasty TV), a Chinese station in New York, who said that viewers in his area have great interest in Trump. The Chinese viewers from New York and New Jersey are largely small business owners who Trump has really helped.
“I see a real, big difference. They are not just supporting Republican candidates, but they are giving money to candidates, “ Lin said. Even though rallies are happening around the country every day and sometimes twice a day, the media can’t seem to get enough of Trump.
At 11:30 a.m., people began entering and taking their standing positions where they would have to stand for several hours. Between 6,000 to 8,000 people are reported to have held their places in the hangar and surrounding airport.
Buses drove people from their parking spots miles away to the location. Music filled the air, hats and Trump paraphernalia were available for sale. Water was passed out. Shirts were tossed to the crowd, and it all brought back memories of attending rock concerts in the 1970s.
Trump stated at the rally that the coverage and crowds “are like nothing they have ever seen before.”
Bruce Weems, a 65-year-old from Alabama, traveled with his family more than 450 miles to attend the rally. He arrived at 6 a.m. Asked why he made the trek, he said, “I want the experience and the feeling of what it is like to be present. I regard him as the greatest president in my lifetime.”
Charles Brown of Macon came because Trump has helped the company Brown works for, zipper maker YKK, and he has profited. After Trump urged stores to buy American-made products, Walmart made a deal with YKK, and it has really helped business.
Hunter Ross is a teacher from Douglas County. He stated that he came to the rally “because I am bringing home about $3,000 more since the tax cuts. I want to thank him. This president is really ‘into’ America.”
Around 2:30 p.m., the program began with John Padgett, the state chairman of the Republican party. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and former Gov. Sonny Purdue both spoke as well as University of Georgia football legend Vince Dooley. All were soundly cheered. But the biggest cheers were for the president. He came to rally the troops, but they were already rallied, as they surrounded him with cheers, yelps, whistles and words of endearment. “This is like being at a Georgia football game,” Trump said, and the crowds went wild again.
Love him or hate him, Trump is a masterful president and performer. He knows how to work a crowd; he knows what lines will work; uses humor and exaggeration to his advantage; and has a following beyond anything that this reporter has ever seen.