Poughkeepsie Locals Rally Around Trump Ahead of NY Win
“We’re going to win, win, win!” Donald Trump declared to a crowd of rowdy, adoring supporters during his rally in Poughkeepsie on April 17.
The Republican presidential candidate certainly seemed to be “winning” as he filled the Mid-Hudson Civic Center to capacity with passionate local voters, as well as Dutchess County officials, on the sunny Sunday afternoon.
A few hours of tension ensued outside the venue just before the rally, with Trump fans on one side of the street waiting to get in, and protesters on the other. Many obscenities were yelled across the aisle from both sides. A Trump fan yelled to a group of mostly black protesters about “their” President of the last eight years. The protesters insulted the Trump fan’s age in response.
There was also a ubiquitous air of hatred toward Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton outside the Civic Center. “I’ll take anyone but Hillary. Absolutely anyone,” one rally-goer told us. This could’ve been catalyzed by the vendors who were selling t-shirts that read, “Hillary sucks, but not like Monica,” and chanting this phrase through the streets.
Inside the venue, there were American flag bandanas and baseball caps inscribed with the words “Make America Great Again” as far as the eye could see. There was a notable lack of minority representation in the crowd, but there was a wide variety of ages in attendance, from veterans to young college students and even children. All were extremely excited to hear from the candidate and celebrate his likely victory in New York.
After an announcement urging rally-goers not to “touch or provoke any protesters,” the event kicked off with a speech from Dutchess County Sheriff, and longtime friend of Trump, Butch Anderson. Anderson was named an honorary co-chairman of Trump’s New York campaign earlier this month.
Anderson’s exceedingly patriotic speech began with a moment of silence in remembrance of 9/11, and then went into a heartfelt reading of a passage that personified the American flag.
“Look up. Do you see me? I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice. I stand for freedom,” read Anderson.
Unfortunately for Trump, just one day after this emotional moment, he mistakenly referred to 9/11 as the convenience store chain 7/11 during a speech in Buffalo.
Despite this gaffe, most of Trump’s speech focused on patriotism. He devoted a large amount of his time to foreign policy issues and immigration. His usual talking points were addressed, including Asian devaluation of currency, “blowing up” ISIS, and of course, the infamous wall.
He addressed trade issues with countries such as Japan, China and Mexico, and referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership as a “total disaster” that will “wipe out New York State.” He made it clear that he believes current American leaders are not equipped to handle this kind of economic dispute.
His supporters often cite his business capabilities as a viable credential for his candidacy. One supporter said, “I think that’s the problem. We’ve had a lot of politicians come into office and they’re career politicians, so they don’t know anything about anything when it comes to the economy, business, finance, anything. The country is a business at the end of the day and people don’t realize it.”
Trump echoed that idea during his speech when he referred to the “political hacks” running the United States and the “terrible deals” they have made in office.
The candidate also spoke briefly about the situation in the Middle East, saying, “We’re going blow up ISIS, no problem” which was received with rigorous applause as he continued, “This is not the guy with a happy finger. This is a guy that said, ‘Don’t go into Iraq.’ We went into Iraq, it was a disastrous decision, then we got out and we got out the wrong way,” which was received with notably less applause.
To this dampened excitement, Trump brought up his most popular, and arguably most controversial, issue: immigration.
“Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!” his supporters chanted.
Trump believes that because of the $24 billion trade deficit between the United States and Mexico, he can make them pay for a $10 billion wall across the border between Mexico and the U.S. in order to keep out illegal immigrants. “It will be so easy,” he said. This has proven to be more difficult than he initially expected, but that has not deterred him from making this issue a focal point of his campaign.
He also spent a great deal of time insulting and discrediting his opponents on both sides of the aisle. He induced floor-shaking applause when he referred to Republican opponent Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” and Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Clinton.” In regard to Clinton’s opponent Bernie Sanders, Trump said, “I refuse to vote for a communist.”
However, directly after that statement, Trump echoed the Sanders campaign’s rhetoric by talking about the “rigged system” in place that often discounts fringe candidates such as Sanders and himself.
“Like, what is it, 9 or 11 in a row of ‘Bernie Sanders wins!’ and then I listen to the dishonest media, and they’re around the table and they say, ‘Well, he can’t win. It’s over. He didn’t win.’ It’s a corrupt system because in all fairness, Bernie Sanders should be able to win.” (Sanders has won 7 out of the last 9 primaries).
Trump most likely made these comments because he believes it will be easier to defeat Sanders than Clinton in November, but nonetheless, this discourse got very little applause compared to his more conservative talking points. This and other points throughout the speech, such as mentions of the energy revolution, made it seem like the candidate was sort of riffing his entire speech off the top of his head, and gave it a very conversational tone.
Domestically, Trump focused on the issue of jobs. He brought the issue home by reading off some statistics about the city of Poughkeepsie, which has apparently lost 35% of its manufacturing jobs and seen a 16% loss in mining jobs. He did not cite the source of these numbers. With the unemployment rate at one of its lowest points in the last decade, this seems like a strange talking point for the candidate, but it was one that certainly resonated with his supporters.
During his discussion of jobs, he asked the crowd, “By the way, do the women love Trump?”
The screams and applause coming from the female portion of the audience was deafening.
Before the rally, a middle-aged woman told us, “If women feel that Trump isn’t for them, they’re wrong because if he’s talking about making jobs, that’s for women, too. So if you really want to have a career, you would vote for someone who’s talking about creating jobs because the other candidates, they have a good line, but they don’t say how they’re going to make these jobs. He’s a businessman. He knows how to create them.”
He also briefly mentioned the domestic issue of gun control during the last few minutes of the rally. He said his administration will “win with the Second Amendment,” and the crowd went wild.
To close out his speech and end the rally on a congenial note, Trump mentioned how he “feel[s] like I’m talking to friends here. This is a friendly crowd.”
It certainly was. There were more random outbursts of the phrase, “I love you Trump!!” throughout his speech than we could count. The crowd hung on his every word, cheering and chanting at every point he brought up.
Trump’s appeal is obvious. He is an extremely charismatic character with big ideas and unapologetic confidence. He is owns his bombastic language and strong opinions, and has developed that into a brand that resonates with the general population of Americans.
When Trump says, “These politicians don’t get it,” he’s not only talking about trade deals. He’s talking about the disconnect between the public and its government. This typically white, middle-class, semi-educated demographic that spans across the country gets lost on so many politicians, but Trump has capitalized on their frustration. This group so loudly and loyally supports Trump that it is no surprise he is New York’s Republican presidential candidate nominee. He’s certainly “winning,” and if Sunday’s rally is any indication, that won’t stop any time soon.
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