GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Donald Trump supporters lined up early Thursday to get into Van Andel Arena, where the president spoke at an evening campaign rally.
By around 4 p.m., just before the doors opened, the line stretched around the arena along Ionia Avenue and all the way to the Downtown Market, more than half a mile away. The atmosphere was celebratory, with a band playing and an energetic crowd.
“We want to thank you, Trump, for everything that you don’t get no credit for. We are here to show you that we support you. We love you,” supporter Shannon Adams.
“He stands for America and with everybody. We love America and he loves America and we trust him,” Darcie Cronn said.
Adams and Cronn came to Grand Rapids from northern Michigan. Other supporters came from as far west as Chicago and as far east as Flint.
One man said seeing the president would be “one of the greatest experiences of (his) life.”
“I wasn’t always a Republican,” that supporter continued. “I used to be a Democrat and then I started seeing a lot of hypocrisy in a lot of their policy and their rhetoric. Eventually it got to point where I started to listen to Trump and a lot of his allies and supporters and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy makes a lot of sense.'”
The line was filled with families, retirees and young people. They wore Trump T-shirts, pins and, of course, signature red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps. Whatever they didn’t bring, they could buy from vendors who set up shop.
Among the crowd was a family recently immigrated from China. They said they came to learn more about the president.
“We came because we want to know more about Trump, about American policy, about (the) American president. That would be very cool,” mother Barbara Li said.
A friend of theirs who is a Trump supporter packed lunches for the family to eat while they waited hours to get in.
Those still left in line when the doors closed — hundreds of people — were able to watch the address on a large screen at the front of the arena, along Fulton Street. After the event, supporters left with smiles on their faces.
“I have to be honest, I started crying when he walked out. It was really very emotional to see,” Lorie Johnson of the Newaygo area said. “He’s just done so much for this country in such a short time. It’s just like nothing any president’s ever done before.”
Part of the president’s speech called out naysayers during his campaign who said he couldn’t win women’s votes. Johnson is proof he did.
“As long as he’s doing what he’s doing for this country, it doesn’t matter if he says a bad word or rubs some people the wrong way a little bit,” Johnson said.
Trump’s narrow victory in Michigan in 2016 helped put him in the White House. The state should be a key battleground again in 2020, when the president will try to secure the states he won last time. It’s far too early to say which way Michigan may go, but voters did elect Democrats to several important offices in the midterm election.
—24 Hour News 8’s Marvis Herring contributed to this report.