KERRY HUBARTT COLUMN: Give Trump credit for pre-election rallies supporting Republicans

Kerry Hubartt

Monday’s Trump rally at the Memorial Coliseum was a mega-event (MAGA-event for you punsters) in Fort Wayne because it was the first appearance of a sitting president here since Ronald Reagan in 1982. It was of such magnitude that streets were closed, people lined up to get in hours early and the arena was filled to capacity, with an overflow crowd of thousands more in the conference center, as well as outside the building watching on a jumbotron — an estimated 17,000 or more total.

The Coliseum parking lot was packed, and many parked at the Holiday Inn, Purdue Fort Wayne and surrounding shopping centers to walk to the arena.

We want to give Trump credit for his tireless roadshow and yeoman’s efforts in firing up his base to go out and vote for Republicans.

For an outsider criticized for not following political protocol, Trump has done the politically correct thing for his party, by criss-crossing the country to support Republican candidates. And we’ll leave it to the “experts” to determine whether his get-out-the-vote initiative was effective or not. Certainly the predicted “Blue Wave” of Democrat support turned out to be less of a tsunami and more like a mild tropical storm; and the Republicans, while giving up control of the House, managed to actually gain seats in the Senate.

Trump’s schedule in the week before Tuesday’s midterm election included 11 rallies spread over Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia, and seemed to be designed to support Senate and gubernatorial candidates more than contested House races.

“Make America Great Again” (MAGA) rallies have been, as The New York Times describes, “the defining event of the Trump era: Over 500 have taken place since 2015, and over 30 have been held since President Trump was elected.”

Trump came to Fort Wayne Monday directly from a rally in Ohio on the same day, and as soon as the Fort Wayne rally was over, the president was on a plane to Cape Girardot, Mo., for the last such spectacular of his whirlwind pre-election tour.

Two Trump visits to Indiana in the final week before the election showed the national importance of Indiana’s U.S. Senate race. And Election Day turned out to be a success for Republicans in Indiana, including Mike Braun’s unseating of incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly.

Some of the liberal interpretations of Trump rallies say they are rubber-stamped, blow-hard conservative pablum, with racist and bigoted overtones. But while Trump issued his normal tirades against fake news and Democrats, the speakers, candidates and the crowd were exemplary in conduct and demeanor, and enthusiastic throughout the hour-and-a-half rally. Trump was exuberant and unhurried in his speech, in spite of what had to be a long, tedious day of travel and talk.

When one of the standing-room-only crowd members needed medical attention during the rally Monday and had to be taken out on a stretcher, Trump called for a doctor and patiently ceased the proceedings for several minutes while beckoning the crowd to be patient — “We’ve got all the time you need. We’ve got plenty of time.”

The president was clearly in no hurry despite a daunting schedule. And that showed, not only his enjoyment of his rallies, but his commitment to do it right for Republicans.