Long lines surrounded the DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center on Monday, December 21, 2015 as people eagerly awaited the arrival of front-runner Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump.
Several Trump supporters were in line since early afternoon anxiously waiting for the doors to open at five.
“I would not stand in line this long for any other politician,” exclaimed Barbara Sue Damore (Suzie), a committed fan from right here in Grand Rapids. Suzie even made ‘Big Trump Cookies’ to distribute to the line of supporters while they waited.
A row of satellite trucks, media, and television remotes dominated the south entrance to the convention center, and over ten thousand people were counted in attendance for the Trump rally. In all, it was the largest crowd ever at the DeltaPlex.
The rally hosted support from all age groups. There was a large portion of the younger generation in attendance as well.
While awaiting Trump’s arrival, I spoke with several teenage students. One group of Byron Center high school supporters were there to hear Trump talk about his plan to combat ISIS. Students from Martin, Allegan, Hopkins, Caledonia and Forest Hills High Schools were also interested in hearing Trump talk combating ISIS and gun control.
I spoke with a group of college students from Ferris State who were awaiting some fellow students from Baker and Fremont college. They were interested in hearing about Trump’s tax plan, the budget, and military spending.
High school and college students weren’t the youngest in attendance, the Harrison family from Dorr brought along their three little girls. This was their first rally and they wanted to part of the history in making America great again.
Eighty-five-year-old Betty Stott traveled from the Ft. Wayne Indiana area just to see Trump and listen to all he had to say.
Kathy and Mary from Muskegon were there in hopes to hear Trumps plan for education, and immigration.
In talking with a group of some Grand Haven supporters, they liked his celebrity and wanted to hear Trump’s famous catch phrase “Obama you’re fired.” Others just wanted to watch his antics, and they were not disappointed.
The evening’s ceremonies started with everyone singing the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. After singing, everyone stood up with hands over their hearts for the saying of the pledge of allegiance.
The crowd roared as Donald Trump hit the stage.
He started with a light joke on the good deal he got on the DeltaPlex center. From there, it was all business, Trump got serious and went into an attack mode against his competitors.
The comments came out hot and started with Lindsey Graham’s decision to leave the race earlier that Monday. He criticized Jeb Bush’s poling numbers as “sad.” And, to no one’s surprise, the biggest target was Hillary Clinton.
Trump made a comment about Hillary being “schlonged” by Obama in 2008. He took a jab at Hillary’s claim that terrorist groups are recruiting fighters with a video of him. “She’s a liar,” he said.
The next day Trump tweeted that his reference about Hillary being “schlonged” is a common term used frequently by politicians.
He also made reference to Hillary’s “break” during a recent Democratic debate telling the crowd, “I know where she went, it’s disgusting.” Laughter filled the arena.
Trump went after the media, daring the camera crews to get a good crowd shot of his supporters in reaction to protesters interrupting the rally. Trump called the protesters “a bunch of losers” and waved goodbye as security escorted them out. This again brought thunderous applause from his supporters.
He told the crowd he hated journalists because some of them are lying, disgusting people. “It’s true,” he stated, before sarcastically adding with a smile and a wink, “But I would never kill them.”
Trump talked about the car manufacturing industry here in Michigan. He said he would slap Ford with a punitive 35 percent tax for ‘every car and part’ produced at an expanded plant in Mexico. “I am a free trader, but we can’t be stupid traders,” he told supporters.
A tax on car parts made in Mexico wasn’t the only reference to the country. If Trump was elected, a ‘beautiful’ wall would be built to keep illegals out. The ‘Trump Wall’ as he named it.
As the rally continued, Trump mentioned his recent support from Russian President Vladmir Putin and asked his supporters, “wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along?”
After over an hour of speaking to a highly vocal crowd, Trump exited to the stage and left a favorable impression on those in attendance.
Comments such as “he tells it like it is”, “Trump expresses the views of the common people”, and “we believe he will make America great again” were commonly expressed by those in attendance.
P. Williams “Patty Williams” has a life time of experience in the entertainment business. On stage at an early age with West Michigan’s first family of bluegrass music, The Williams Family. Patty started P. Williams Productions in 2003. Three Eclipse Awards and Two Telly Awards grace her mantle. Patty enjoys working with professionals, and is always open to new adventures.