By SKYE SEIPP
Victory Plaza and the surrounding streets turned into a red sea on Oct. 17 for President Donald Trump’s Keep America Great rally at the American Airlines Center.
Supporters wearing Trump paraphernalia such as Keep America Great hats, which have replaced the popular Make America Great Again caps of Trump’s 2016 presidential run.
Vendors walked the lines selling everything from Trump socks to “$5 hats made in China by a 3-year-old,” as one seller yelled out to the crowd.
By 2 p.m. the line extended about half a mile to the House of Blues before wrapping back around Houston Street. It moved at the pace of a ride at Six Flags when the doors opened at 4 p.m.
Some supporters like Blake Marnell, who flew in from San Diego, began lining up the day before the event. He wore his signature brick wall suit for his sixth Trump rally, an article of clothing that got him called up on stage for a rally in Pennsylvania.
“Now I’m a meme in real life,” he said. “I go out, and I represent something you could probably get thrown out of Facebook for being a guy wore a brick suit, because ‘it’s offensive, it’s racist.’ I can go anywhere in this country and wear this because it’s neither one of those things. And people who disagree with me have to objectively deal with their feelings and realize it’s them and not me.”
Marnell said the Dallas rally had a great crowd with no outbursts from protestors during the event.
He also noted that the message from the president was “clear as ever.”
Trump spoke on a plethora of issues during the rally and highlighted some of his accomplishments, while also belittling Democratic opponents.
“Our country is thriving, and our nation is stronger than ever before,” Trump said. “But the more America achieves, the more hateful and enraged these crazy Democrats become.”
About 18,500 people packed into the American Airlines Center, which reaches capacity at 20,000, to hear Trump speak for the second time in Dallas. The first was before he was elected in 2015.
At about 7:40 p.m., “Macho Man” by the Village People had just finished playing and the crowd began to cheer as Trump emerged to walk the blue winding platform that led to his podium as “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood blasted the high-powered crowd.
President Trump has taken the stage in Dallas pic.twitter.com/UpQvwgOyLy
— Skye Seipp (@seippetc) October 18, 2019
As the music stopped, Trump was still unable to utter a word over the repeated chants of “U-S-A” from a lively group that had been waiting all day (some over 24 hours) to see the commander in chief.
In his opening remarks Trump boasted that he had created about 775,000 new jobs in Texas since taking office. Throughout the night he made remarks about the state, showing off his knowledge of Texas history and joking about how much the state profited off Hurricane Harvey relief funds.
“They made a fortune,” Trump said in regards to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. “You made a fortune on the hurricane.”
Five minutes into his speech the president began to refer to Democrats, mainly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as “crazy.”
This is the first time Trump has been to Texas since Pelosi and other Democrats opened up an impeachment inquiry last month into a July phone call he had with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats say the call shows Trump asking for Zelensky to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
“I hate to talk about [Biden],” Trump said. “You know why? I don’t think the guy’s got a chance. Sleepy Joe. I don’t think he’s got it.”
Supporters weren’t the only people who descended on downtown. Kurdish supporters assembled outside the arena. In recent weeks Trump began pulling U.S. troops out of the North Syria region, a decision prompted backlash from members of both parties and led to Turkey invading Syria.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids in a lot,” Trump said. “You got to let them fight, and then you pull them apart.”
Antifa, the group of left-wing radicals who oppose right-wing ideologies with action, was met with boos from the crowd of Trump supporters entering the American Airlines Center.
A group of vapers was also standing outside of the arena, although they weren’t exactly protesting. They just repeatedly yelled out, “We vape; we vote. We vote; we vape!”
Last month Trump said he would consider banning flavored electronic cigarette juices in an effort to cut down on vaping related sicknesses and prevent children from vaping.
Outside of the arena about 5,000 people huddled together in Victory Plaza, unable to get into inside but determined to watch the president on the big screen.
Joann Balfour, who drove down from Oklahoma City for her fourth Trump rally, sat on the lower level balcony at the W hotel to watch the rally.
She said she wanted to let other people who haven’t had a chance to see the president get inside.
“When you’re in the arena there’s an energy force in there,” she said, “And it’s the people. It’s not him. I wanted to be out here amongst the crowd when it was full and it’s that same energy. It’s positive, like a warrior spirit.”