Whether you are a fan of former President Donald Trump or not, the man certainly knows how to put on a show, which was evident during Saturday’s “Save America” rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
Unlike his hit TV show “The Apprentice,” I don’t think anyone was fired during the rally, but the crowd was certainly fired up to see our 45th president.
I, myself, was looking forward to helping coach my son’s baseball team in a scrimmage game on Saturday, but that all changed once we heard Trump was visiting Delaware.
Having covered my fair share of political rallies over my 18-year career, I arrived at the fairgrounds at 2:30 p.m. prepared for a warm, sunny day (sunscreen and two bottles of water stuffed inside a drawstring bag) and ready to capture the day’s events with my Nikon camera and two different lenses.
As soon as I entered the main gate, I noticed lines of people standing inside steel barricades as if they were waiting in line for the newest roller coaster at Kings Island or Cedar Point.
After checking in at the media tent, I was ushered into the Junior Fair Show Arena, where security was highly visible and metal detectors seemed to stretch for miles. Since I was carrying in a drawstring bag, I was asked to leave it, along with my camera, on the cement floor so a K-9 could give it a sniff.
Once inside the secure area, I quickly realized this wasn’t a typical political rally. It was an event, complete with rows and rows of bleachers and chairs, state and local politicians making their rounds, media and emergency tents, planes flying overhead with banners attached, a wide variety of food trucks and thousands of Trump supporters – many of whom lined up at 8 a.m. in order to get a seat close to the stage.
As with any large event, law enforcement was everywhere. I saw Secret Service agents, sheriff deputies, police officers from several different departments, and private security liaisons who looked like they just got done wrestling in a WWE match. Let’s just say I wanted nothing to do with any of them, and it appears neither did anyone else as I saw little to no incidents where security or law enforcement was forced to intervene.
It appeared the busiest first responders were EMTs and paramedics. Around 4 p.m., I noticed an officer and several medics rush over to an area where an older gentleman had passed out and was lying on the ground near a barricade. By 6 p.m., a news photographer told me he heard there had already been 10 heat-related illnesses.
As for the reason for the event, after various politicians addressed the crowd in regards to their individual campaigns, a ruckus started brewing around the media tent. I quickly discovered the panic was over the fact the generator had quit working, just before Trump was set to take the stage. Without hesitation, several production crew members quickly unhooked everything from the generator and reconnected everything to a backup generator, saving the day.
Just before 7 p.m., Trump finally took the stage, and the crowd, which had waited all day to see the former commander in chief, erupted in cheers and applause.
To no one’s surprise, Trump was quick to make note of the “fake news” in attendance, prompting the crowd to turn around and boo us. While he called out several news organizations by name, The Delaware Gazette wasn’t mentioned, which I took as a win.
Also, in typical Trump fashion, he mentioned the size of the crowd after thanking the Delaware County Fair Board for its hospitality.
“This (rally) broke all of their records,” Trump said. “They told me we broke their record by thousands and thousands of people.”
As a working member of the press, I can confirm it was the largest crowd I’ve ever encountered at a political event.
During his 90-minute speech, Trump — like any good politician – touted his list of accomplishments: securing the border; cutting taxes and job-killing regulations; getting rid of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); saving the steel industry; rebuilding the military and creating the Space Force; protecting parents’ rights; and making the country energy independent.
He also drew boos from the crowd by taking jabs at various politicians and mentioning topics like gas prices, the exit from Afghanistan, the Green New Deal, the Paris Agreement, COVID and energy production mandates, masks, mail-in ballots and the climate change crisis.
Trump also made sure to acknowledge his love for Ohio and the fact he won the state in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. I did learn something I never knew about Trump. He actually worked in Ohio prior to his college years. In 1964, his father, Fred Trump, bought at a foreclosure auction a half-empty apartment complex in Cincinnati known as Swifton Village. The younger Trump eventually took on the responsibility of managing the complex.
“I got to know the state very well, and I love the people of Ohio,” Trump told the crowd Saturday. I guess Trump and I both share a love for the people of Ohio, a state I’ve called home my entire life.
The rally also served as an opportunity for Trump to stump for U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who at one point in time, said he was a “Never Trumper.”
“(J.D.) loves Ohio and frankly, he’s a great Buckeye,” Trump said.
Trump told the crowd Vance has the best chance to keep the Senate seat Republican, and he acknowledge the fact Vance had said some negative things about him in the past.
“You know what, every one of the others did also. In fact, if I went by that standard, I don’t think I would have endorsed anybody in the country,” Trump joked. “They all said bad (things), but they all came back.”
While the 2024 presidential election is two-plus years away, rumors continue to swirl around whether Trump will run again.
Well, take what you will from the fact Trump touted the fact that in 2020 he got more votes than any sitting president in U.S. history before stating, “We may very well have to do it again.”
The crowd responded by chanting in unison: “Trump, Trump … Trump.”
Only time will tell if Trump’s name appears on the 2024 ballot.