Tag Archives: Trump

A rally in two parts

I got to have a massively fun three-day weekend packed with activities with family, friends, and some political candidates. I took a whole day off on Friday just to make room for it all, but even still things seemed to spill over into Thursday and Monday nonetheless.

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I kicked things off on Thursday by riding my bike down to Chick-Fil-A (during a brief non-raining moment) to have lunch with Vivian and Hannah after BSF. We’d been planning an outing to “eat more chicken” and wanted to do it before BSF ended for the year. I also wanted to give Hannah the chance to use the little playground area one last time before she had completely outgrown it (as she’s a fraction of an inch away). I even had enough points in my Chick-Fil-A app to get us all ice cream cones for dessert, so it was just about perfect.

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I took Friday off and got to have some more quality time with Hannah by taking a bike ride around the lake at Walnut Creek. It had been gray and raining earlier, but it was dry and sunny enough for a lovely little ride. We got to see some of the tulips in bloom and explore the park a little bit in-between rounds of pedaling around the bike path. The best thing about visiting the park on a Friday is how quiet the whole place is, with only a handful of pedestrians sharing the trail with us.

Then at lunchtime, I took my dad down to the Treragon Golf Course’s clubhouse to meet Brett Lindstrom, the guy I’m hoping will be our next governor. Around four other constituents showed up, along with a writer for the New Yorker named Peter Slevin. It made for a very small gathering, and a great opportunity to ask direct questions on issues like critical race theory, an endorsement from the NSEA, and abortion — with time for detailed answers afterward (and a photo with the candidate, of course).


The real reason I took Friday off, however, was to drop by a rally with Donald Trump that evening at the I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb. Trump was scheduled to hold the outdoor event with Charles Herbster, but some bad weather had been predicted for days, and at the last moment it was postponed until Sunday.

The event itself was still fun, and I got to hang out with some of the VIPs, including Matt Schlapp of CPAC and David Bossie from Citizens United (who was there to promote a new film). There were a few other familiar faces in the crowd, including Allie French from Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, legislature candidate Julie Fredrickson, and Beard Vet, who had his own tailgate party with burgers and coffee. I also got to meet Steve Rhodes, a young Trump cosplayer, who led the crowd in chants of USA before the event and then stopped to get a photo with Herbster afterward.


The line of storms that cancelled Friday’s Trump Rally spawned tornadoes and hail in the Midwest, so postponing until Sunday was the right call. We mostly got wind and rain in Omaha, some of which blew open the window in Aaron’s room and made some a bit of a wet walk with him the next day.

Then that evening, we celebrated our friend Kody’s birthday. He smoked a variety of meats for dinner, which we ate with a handful of friends. We had about three pairs of kids among us, so I got a kiddo group picture to mark the occasion of our little ones growing up together. Then we finished off the evening with some lemon meringue pie and tres leches cake for dessert, along with the obligatory blowing-out of candles.


Sunday was May Day, so Donna dropped by with some flowers for us and a few treats for the kids, which was a nice little surprise. The kids also got to give Bella a couple walks up and down the hill.

Afterward, we headed downtown to the Holland Center for “a Sensory-Friendly Omaha Symphony Concert,” sponsored by the Autism Action Partnership as a part of the Common Senses Festival. Aaron got to have an up-close look at a cello prior to the show, and then the orchestra played a medley of songs from composers like Aaron Copland, who I was happy to tell Aaron he shared a name with.

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Then came the Trump Rally. The weather was just about perfect (especially compared to Friday), with temperatures in the 70s and clear, blue skies. I wound up arriving very late around 3:30, right in-between speakers David Bossie and NFL star Jack Brewer. I squeezed through the crowd, getting close enough for a few snapshots of Brewer praying over Charles Herbster before Herbster gave a brief stump speech. The crowd was smaller than other Trump rallies I’d attended, around 2000-3000 or so, but it was just as energetic, with people dancing to a familiar playlist of songs. I also saw many familiar faces, including Ian Swanson from KFAB at the media deck, where RSBN was interviewing Mike Lindell. Other VIPs in the crowd included Lt. Gov. Foley and Matt Innis up at the front.

Around 5:15, Donald Trump took the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and talked for nearly two hours (which you can watch here in its entirety). Much of his speech was about the 2020 election and his poll numbers looking at 2024 (complete with slides). He pointed out a few of his special guests in the front, including Jack Brewer and Mike Lindell, and he let Herbster take the mike for a minute or two halfway through. I was quite happy to get close enough for some terrific shots up close, including a few of a friend or two in the stands behind Trump. The event wrapped with YMCA by the Village People as Trump danced his way off stage, and then I hurried back to the car to rush home and share some of my 600+ pictures.


As if that weren’t enough politics for one week, the next day I had a luncheon with the River City Republicans with four guest speakers — gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau, her running mate (and talk radio host) Trent Loos, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, and State Treasurer John Murante.

Thibodeau and Loos gave brief stump speeches and has some Q&A with the audience (which included Thibodeau’s dad and sister). Evnen talked about election security and John Murante spoke about the Biden administration pressuring states to enact his “build back better” agenda and spy on citizens’ bank accounts. It was a nice, informative meetup, and I got to have a little extra time chatting with some of the same folks who had been to the Trump rally the previous day.

The state primary is next Tuesday, so I expect things may calm just a bit before we head into November — and then the race for 2024 will kick off.

Trump Returns to Omaha

President Trump returned on Omaha on Tuesday this week for a campaign rally down at Eppley Airfield in a series of last-minute events in an increasingly tightening Presidential campaign. The rally apparently trended on Twitter yesterday, and not for any of the reasons I would have guessed. More on that at the end.


I brought my friend Jake along again for the rally, warning him ahead of time about the expected crowd (25,000 according to the Omaha Police Department) and hours of standing in line. We got there early at 2:30 PM hoping to beat most of the crowd. We immediately got on a shuttle bus that took us to the rally site, where trump staff took everyone’s temperature coming into the rally and had free masks, hand sanitizer, bottled water, and hand warmers for everyone. There was a respectable crowd in line already when I arrived, some having brought chairs, coolers, and even heaters like one big tailgate party. I saw some familiar faces while waiting to get inside, and I enjoy chatting with some of the die-hard Trump fans, one of whom wore a blanket with a photo of Trump they’d personally taken at the White House.

The crowd continued to pour in until OPD eventually shut off traffic around 6 PM — with thousands more still arriving. A series of local candidates and politicians got to up to speak before the President arrived, including David Young, Don Bacon, Kristi Noem, Deb Fischer, Gov. Ricketts and his brother Todd. Finally Rick Holdcroft, running to represent my state district, gave an opening prayer before the National Anthem.


There was a bit of a lull after the speakers concluded. A couple staff members threw hats to the audience and other waiting in long, long lines for food vendors and free hot chocolate int he warming tent. Then around 7:45 PM, we saw the lights of Air Force One descending onto the runway, with plenty of cheers as it taxied along the tarmac behind the bleachers. President Trump emerged a few minutes later to the tune of Proud to be an American and took the stage. He made a few quips about the cold as he launched into his stump speech. This was his third rally of the day, but he had plenty of energy, taking shots at Biden (Joe and Hunter), particularly recent scandal involving Hunter’s laptop.Trump also had a few videos that played overhead, highlighting civil unrest among other things.

The crowd was very responsive, particularly when Trump pointed out various Nebraska politicians in the audience. The crowd started chanting “Bacon! Bacon!” when he pointed out the 2nd District congressman, and Trump took a brief shot at Ben Sasse, commenting that Deb Fischer was his “favorite Senator from Nebraska.” Then he wrapped up shortly before 9 PM, telling the crowd “we will make America great again” before dancing to YMCA by the Village People, which blasted overhead as people began to make their way out.

The Aftermath


The long walk back.

As you may have heard, getting out of the rally proved to be a bit of an adventure, but the media has blown it way out of proportion. Jake and I followed the crowd out of the rally fairly quickly, hoping to get an early spot on a bus to get back to the parking lot. The buses hadn’t arrived yet, however, and the majority of the crowd seemed to just want to keep on walking down the road on foot. I didn’t quite realize they weren’t just walking to a bus stop but were actually walking the entire way back to the parking lots — a trek of over 3.5 miles.

It took Jake and me around an hour and a half to walk the entire way, at which point we were quite sore and tired and ready to collapse. Adding insult to injury, the first fleet of buses passed us along the way, making me wish we’d just waited a while at the curb for them to arrive. We had about half an hour after that to squeeze out of the south parking lot before we could finally head home.

The story didn’t seem to end there, however. The news media picked up the story, and declared that Trump supporters were “left stranded in freezing temperatures” after the rally, which was ridiculous. Only those of us dumb enough to walk back (raising my hand here) were left in the cold. Some folks discovered partway that they couldn’t make the trip and needed medical attention, some of which included blisters or cuts on feet from all the walking. What the media aren’t pointing out is that the crowd was far, far larger than expected — and may very well be a leading indicator for the election next week. We shall see.

Jake was a real trooper through the whole experience, and he even said he’d do it again if he had the chance. In particular he liked bragging to his dad that he got to see Kristi Noem, who they missed at the Governor’s steak fry a month ago.

President Trump visits Council Bluffs

President Trump paid a visit to Council Bluffs on Tuesday this week, and I was able to attend his rally with Vivian for the first time ever. It was quite a memorable experience to say the least.


I’d seen Mr. Trump twice before as a candidate, but as a sitting President he seemed to draw a remarkably larger crowd. People actually camped overnight to be the first in line to see him, and thousands of others waited standing in the rain all day long before the doors opened.

Vivian and I arrived around four and were among the last to get inside — in a line that stretched over a mile. We had a good time chatting with others in line and looking at the vendors selling bootleg Trump merchandise along the sidewalk along the way.


After about two hours shuffling through near-constant rain, we made it to the entrance, where we were wanded by Secret Service and then ushered into the arena. Vivian and I were among the last to get inside, and we were fortunate — at least a thousand people had to watch from outside on a giant screen.

And wow — there’s nothing quite as electrifying as walking into a Trump Rally. Seven thousand people were packed into the room, and Vivian and I were among the last to arrive. The MAGA faithful were holding signs and doing the “wave” as music pounded overhead, and I bumped into multiple VIPs on the way inside — Gov. Ricketts and Congressmen Fortenberry, Bacon, and King.


Then, a little after 6:30, the music died down and the 45th President of the United States stepped into the arena to Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American. The crowd was very enthusiastic, particularly those of us from Nebraska, who announced our presence with a cheer so loud that the President had to take a spontaneous poll to see “who the hell I’m talking to.” I guess it was a surprise that so many of us would cross the river into Council Bluffs to see the POTUS. The speech itself was largely standard for a Trump rally — tallying off a number of the administrations’ successes, with a brief highlight on “year-round E15.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Congressman Running for Iowa’s third district. also got to say a few words, and Trump also pointed out the number of VIPs from Nebraska in the audience.

The event wrapped up fairly quickly afterward, as Vivian and I made our escape and saw only a small handful of protesters (who were kept off of MAC property by police) on the way back to our car. The only downer from the whole evening was losing my blue umbrella. We weren’t allowed to bring umbrellas into the Mid-America Center, so we left ours outside in the hopes of finding them when we left. Vivian found hers, but mine was missing, likely taken by someone else by mistake. Maybe I should have left mine in a tree, as many others did.

Overall, however, it was a great event — particularly because Vivian actually came along with me this time. It was the first time she’d seen Trump or any sitting President, but it was bigger than any political event I’d ever been to before — and that includes when President Obama came to town.

America’s pretty great, isn’t she?

Don, Rudy, and Johnny


I genuinely thought my participation in the 2016 Presidential Election would have ended way back at the end of the Iowa Primaries. Not so. On Wednesday last week, Donald Trump made a last-minute campaign stop in Council Bluffs, so I dropped by the Mid-America Center with a couple thousand people to get a glimpse of the Donald one last time before November. The crowd consisted of the usual suspects — namely PowerLine blogger Dave Begley and Fake Security Guy (the latter of whom was jockeying for autographs). To my surprise, only about half the crowd was over forty, and the other half were college-age kids and young families (with their kids in tow). Unlike some of the earlier, rowdier campaign events, this one was safe for the whole family, particularly when security spotted a Black Lives Matter thug and ushered him out the door an hour or two before the event started.

A handful of people warmed up the crowd before Trump took the stage, including Tana Goertz, Tamara Scott, and Jamie Johnson, who gave an opening prayer. The biggest surprise guest, however, was Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who introduced Donald Trump before he took the stage. Giuliani stayed near the barricade where I was standing long enough to shake hands and sign autographs before he left. As for Trump, he gave a fairly typical stump speech to the friendly crowd. One new addition this time around was a Teleprompter, but from my vantage point, I could read along and see Trump was only using it about a third of the time or less — he would read a few words and then go off on a tangent before getting back on-script. Unfortunately, he didn’t stick around for more than a minute when he was done, leaving some of us who were hoping for an autograph a bit disappointed.


The next day, I had lunch with Don Bacon, retired Brigadier General now running for congress in the second district. I’ve seen him shaking hands at every parade for a year or two now, and he seems to be popping up everywhere to meet constituents and ask for their vote. He gave a brief talk and seemed like the perfect candidate for this election season — a genuine outsider to compete against a career politician like Brad Ashford.

Then that evening, I and a handful of my Jitterbug friends crashed at the Reverb Lounge to see Johnny Boyd and his band. Indigo Swing was one of the very first swing bands I knew by name, and I got to see these guys perform at Cowtown three years ago, which was fantastic. This time, the venue was much smaller and much more intimate. We had only a few feet of space to dance inside the tiny lounge, but that also meant Johnny and his guys were performing just a few feet away from us, which was almost intimidating. I had a dance with nearly everyone there before calling it a night. Next year, I hope to see them again while on tour, and preferably come with Vivian.

Donald Trump in Council Bluffs

2016 is nearly upon us, and what better way to kick off the start of a Presidential Election year than by squeezing into the Mid-America Center to get a glimpse of the Republican front-runner? (Other than having fondue with family, of course.)

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That’s right, I and my folks — along with several thousand other people — braved cold weather and a pat-down from the Secret Service (who did NOT like me taking their picture) to hear Donald Trump bloviate for an hour and twenty minutes completely unscripted. It was a unique event in that it had almost no seating for anyone, which meant in addition to fallen arches, everyone tended to squeeze together to get closer to the stage. It was a remarkably different crowd from the one that came to see Bernie Sanders — there were far more blue-collar types and families present than millennial hipsters. There were also people selling “swag” and even Donald Trump cos-player — a first for any political event I’ve attended.

If you’d like to see Trump’s speech in its entirety, it’s available on YouTube, but he spent most of his time talking about himself leading in the polls and touching on random subjects, including ending free-trade, a position he ironically shares with Bernie Sanders. I was fortunate enough to know just where to be once the speech was over to get up a close-up of Donald as he greeted attendees. So many others were pressing in to get autographs and pictures that it got just a little personal, but everyone was well behaved — the Secret Service made sure of that.

On to the New Year!