The air was cold, but the uproar was hot. If there was one thing certain, this crowd loved Donald J. Trump.
Thousands gathered Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan to support President Donald Trump in his effort to get re-elected for a second term.
“A Trump rally is kind of like a combination of a political event and a rock concert,” 2003 MSU alumnus Chris Farmer said.
Farmer said this is one of the several rallies led by the president that he’s been to this year. Each time is different, he said, because Trump always talks about something new.
“Trump, he's a charismatic guy,” Farmer said. “He talks off the cuff, a lot.”
And while speaking freely fires up his base, it also draws strong opposition against him. Some of the key elements discussed during Tuesday’s rally were Trump’s relationship with the media, his relationship with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and his response to COVID-19.
After contracting COVID-19 himself, Trump claimed he could kiss every woman (and man) in the crowd and be safe from the virus, saying, “I have immunity.”
Farmer relayed Trump’s message about COVID-19 with his own experience, claiming that these rallies are not super spreader events.
“I’ve been to six of these things now,” Farmer said. “I don’t got COVID ... I’m just trying to say that the fear-mongering and this COVID, COVID, COVID stuff is not really what they should be putting out there the whole time.”
As of Oct. 26, three different COVID-19 outbreaks that have infected at least 23 people in Minnesota have been traced back to rallies held by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in September.
In a rally, that Newsweek likened to George Orwell's 1984, Trump, as he always does, fed into the energy of the crowd.
Tuesday’s rally was held 10 minutes away from the state’s capitol, a place Trump has criticized heavily over the past couple of months. He said Tuesday that Gov. Whitmer is “a disaster,” and that she needs to “open up the state.”
Later during the rally, chants among the crowd called to “lock her up!” Trump answered, “I don’t comment on that because every time, even if I make just a little bit of a nod, they say the president led them. I don’t have to lead you.”
MSU senior Chloe Santeiu-Herriman, who attended Tuesday’s rally, said she thinks Trump responded the way he did because the media pollutes what he says.
“I think he was so short with his response because people, through the media, take what he says so seriously, and his words can get twisted so easily,” Santeiu-Herriman said. “And so, he doesn’t want to comment anything positive when people are chanting, ‘Lock her up!’ because then the media can twist it as he’s condoning bad things upon Whitmer and such.”
At an Oct. 17 rally held in Muskegon, Michigan, Trump responded to similar chants about the governor by chiming, “Lock them all up.”
Trump is scheduled to visit Michigan again this Friday at the Oakland County International Airport in Waterford. There, he will try to gain more Republican support from Michigan’s swing state, where many polls currently favor former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I don’t even really look at Trump as a Republican,” Farmer said. “I look at him as kind of his own, his own man.”
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