Author: Kimberly Perry
Photo Credit: Katie Davert
On February 7, 2016, I was able to attend a Donald Trump rally at Plymouth State University, thanks to my broadcast journalism class. I was very excited to see how the day would go, and I am very lucky to have gotten such a great opportunity.
I arrived at Plymouth State University around 11am, and the large parking lot was already almost full with cars. Walking from the parking lot to the event location, I passed several people who were selling Trump merchandise such as hats, shirts, pins, and more with sayings like “Make America Great Again” and “Put Hillary in Prison”. Just in the first 5 minutes of arriving, I already knew it was going to be an eventful day.
After the 10 minute walk from the parking lot to the event location, I went directly to the media check-in and waited in line next to professional news reporters. The check-in was extremely professional, strict, and honestly intimidating. Obviously, the security guards need to be careful of who is allowed to attend the rally, but the whole process was an event just in itself. As soon as I walked through the doors, I was told to put my bag against the wall and then walk away from it. Then, everyone’s bags got searched and we had to put our hands up and get scanned to make sure we weren’t carrying anything dangerous. There was one individual that had a pocket knife, and was quickly escorted out of the building. There was even a police dog inside, but it made the environment feel very safe and under control.
Once we got our bags, we headed over to the main area of the event, where there was already a lot of people. By this time it was around 11:45 am, and the day hadn’t even begun yet. My friend and I picked a spot that would be most beneficial of reporting and taking pictures; we were pretty much in the front center of the crowd. We were surrounded by people with Trump hats, posters, pins and more, and the audience itself was very diverse. For the next hour I took pictures and exchanged small talk with the people around me, and it was interesting to see how the energy in the room progressed as 1:00pm (when it began) became closer and closer.
It was finally 1:00pm, the lights dimmed and the orchestra and oldies music that was playing had turned into the song “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. But it was just a false alarm, and we had to wait another 30 minutes before Trump came out, but it was all worth it.
When the lights dimmed for the second time and the music changed it’s course once again, everyone got very excited. The crowd cheered “Trump! Trump! Trump!” over and over again and Trump finally walked onto the stage.
He began his speech by discussing the debate which was on the previous night at Saint Anselm College, talking about how the room was loaded up of rich donors and people with extreme amounts of money, rather than college students (which was the intended audience). Trump then started to discuss issues such as problems America faces with how veterans get treated, how the U.S. is the largest purchaser of drugs in the world, and illegal immigration concerns. Even though these topics are very serious, Trump managed to keep everything laid back and it felt like he was talking to all of us like we were his friends, rather than complete strangers, which I believe made the rally very successful.
Trump explained that his campaign is from all of his own money, and he doesn’t need our money, but needs our vote. The microphone would occasionally stop working and he would make jokes about not paying for the event, which once again showed how this rally was so much more than politics. Trump also talked about the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, and how he wants to call the wall “Trump”.
Also, throughout the rally, there were some moments that were very strange to me. Some protesters broke in and would make very weird noises, which made everyone a little uncomfortable. But every time a protestor would cause a scene, Trump would just say “I love my protesters”.
Overall, it was a great day. It consisted of 4+ hours driving, 4+ hours of standing, a lot of laughs and smiles, and a huge sense of community. Trump made several points that were very detailed and focused, he was very kind to the audience and at the end of the rally he said “I love you guys, you are amazing people. If you’re not going to vote for me, do not vote. Let’s make America great again, thank you”, and then Revolution by The Beatles came on. It was a very entertaining political rally, and it was something I’ll never forget.