TOLEDO, Ohio (WDTN) – President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally of 2020 jumped from humor to storytelling to direct name-calling and attacks of his Democratic opponents.
Accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Trump spoke to a packed Huntington Center in Toledo and was in his element in front of his Midwest blue-collar and middle-class supporters.
His speech, which lasted over an hour and was proceeded with remarks from Vice President Mike Pence, hit every note on his platform from his last campaign along with defending his own policies and even taking umbrage with critics of his golfing.
Trump spoke about the Democratic primary, the attack against Iranian Quds Force General Qassam Soleimani and his polices like he was spinning a yarn with some jokes and caricatures of his political opponents.
“You try watching the competition but it’s like watching death,” Trump said. “Those debates are boring. You sit through those things for two or three hours you really have to be committed to the country.”
Trump continued to bash Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, for taking management jobs overseas. Trump said Hunter Biden is getting paid through corruption because of his father’s connections to the government and the White House.
Trump became pointed, ripping Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi for impeachment and for demanding clearance on the use of force. He accused the Democrats of not understanding American national security, and said they were colluding with “fake news media.” He said Democrats were “upset over the death of a terrorist,” referring to the criticism over the bombing of Soleimani and two Iraqis.
Trump brought up the Bidens and impeachment but didn’t say anything of substance about what brought the matter before Congress.
Trump was in his element, in front of a packed arena of supporters in Ohio on the border of Michigan, perhaps the two key states in his election win in 2016.
He called Congressman Adam Schiff a pencilneck and accused Nancy Pelosi of leaving her district, which encompasses San Francisco, a mess.
He repeatedly said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashid Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were in charge of the Democratic party, not Pelosi, who is the Speaker of the House. He also aimed at people who were leaving the event early.
Trump was his most heated when discussing border security. He accused Democrats of supporting an open border and derided their plans of a high-tech border security system using drones.
7 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence opens for Trump
Vice President Mike Pence said President Donald Trump had responded with needed force against Iran when it bombed and killed two Iraqi officials and Qassem Soleimani, a general and Iranian government official.
“When our embassy was attacked in Baghdad, President Trump sent in the Marines,” Pence said. “No more Benghazis.”
“He is taking the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on their soil,” Pence said. “The last president was sending them cash.”
Pence pushed economic success in Ohio and said the state would be key in deciding the election this coming November.
“I’m here for one reason and one reason only – Ohio and America need four more years of Donald Trump,” Pence said.
“It’s been four years of promises made and promises kept.”
6:30 p.m. : Trump supporter says base is loyalty is simple – look at the 401Ks
John Luxe of Wallbridge isn’t a swing voter. He’s firmly in the Trump base, and the reason is simple – look at his 401K.
“The media said electing Trump would tank the stock market,” Luxe said. “In actuality, the stock market was up 28 percent last year. That’s unheard of. That’s what the majority of middle-class people have as retirement, is a 401K. They (Democratic presidential candidates) just don’t get that.
“Working people who have a 401K, that’s who that affects. If the stock market goes up like that it’s benefiting the middle class. That’s how we are going to retire.”
The stock market dived 5.6 percent the first year of Trump’s presidency in 2018. From 2010 to 2016, the average 401K account grew 14.2 percent, according to U.S. News and World Report. Those numbers came after The Great Recession led to the stock market plunging from 2007 to 2009, wiping out many retirement accounts with it.
Luxe credited Trump for delivering on promises he made to his base – pushing for better trade deals and taking on treaties like NAFTA and countries like China, which were the recipient of thousands of offshored U.S jobs.
“He’s pretty much the only politician I know of that has made promises and actually kept them,” Luxe said. “Looking back, maybe since Reagan. With George H.W. Bush, we had the ‘No New Taxes’ pledge, and we saw how that went.”
Luxe was a member of the Republican party but switched independent. He said he felt neither party was delivering on promises made during campaigns.
He said he doesn’t expect the recent bombing of an Iranian military and government official Soleimani along with two other Iraqi officials to hurt his standing among supporters who voted for Trump based on his promise to get the US out of foreign conflicts.
Soleimani was a developer of Improvised Explosive Devices that killed and wounded thousands of US troops. But he was also a high-ranking government official and his death has already led to a Ukranian airliner being shot down and missile attacks against US troops.
“The guy was a scumbag,” Luxe said. “I think to be honest, the response was restrained. Look at how many of our guys he killed. The Iranians have shot down a dozen of our drones and they’ve also been attacking Saudi oil fields, which is an ally of ours.”
5:30 p.m.: Cold and hungry, Trump supporters waited hours to get into arena ahead of rally
A group of Trump supporters from Detroit said they had been waiting outside the arena for three hours. They spent another hour waiting in line at a concession stand outside the arena floor.
One supporter who asked not to be identified said he hadn’t eaten since this morning.
They were among thousands that spent hours waiting as early as last night until today’s rally which began at 5 p.m.
Pastor Jeremy Ramsey began the rally with a prayer. He called for the failure of the president’s opposition, which he called “communists and socialists without out-dated ideals.”
Two of the first three speakers, Ohio State Rep. D.J. Swearington and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, continued the theme calling Democrats socialists. Swearington blasted the Obama administration for not addressing job losses in the rust belt. Obhof took on impeachment and praised Trump’s picks to the Supreme Court.