Election 2020

I Went To a Trump Rally in Pennsylvania and Here's What I Saw

I Went To a Trump Rally in Pennsylvania and Here's What I Saw
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

On Tuesday, President Trump held a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. With two weeks to go before the election, Pennsylvania will likely prove to be a crucial state as it was four years ago. With the importance of Pennsylvania in determining the next president, I decided I had to go to the rally to see firsthand the enthusiasm for President Trump.

I arrived at 3 pm, an hour before the doors opened at Erie International Airport. To say the line was incredibly long is an understatement. According to GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, over 19,000 people signed up to attend the rally. Of those, nearly 27 percent were not Republicans, and just over 1 in 5 did not vote in 2016.

People had been lining up hours prior to my arrival, as the following video from 8’o clock in the morning shows:

It was raining in Erie on Tuesday morning, but clearly that didn’t deter those faithful Trump supporters. As far from the start of the line as I was, by the time we were let in, there were probably more behind me. It wasn’t pleasant weather—a cold and wet 50 degrees—but it wasn’t raining anymore. The people around me were just too excited to see the president to care about the weather. And people came from far distances. I came in from Buffalo, New York, and quite a few others did, too. There were also people who came in from Ohio.

The pictures above, I assure you, do not fully represent the vast numbers of people who were waiting to see the president speak. The last presidential rally I went to was actually a rally for George W. Bush in 2004. It was a few weeks before the election, and a few friends and I went up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to see him speak. That rally had nothing on Trump’s rally. George W. Bush was still in the good graces of the Republican Party back then, and his rally was a mere fraction of the size of Trump’s. The best way to get a sense of how big this rally was, I suggest looking at the following panoramic shot, taken by Dan Scavino, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media:

While the above photo gives you a sense of how many people were there, it does not capture the excitement of the crowd. These people had waited in line, some for more than ten hours, but couldn’t be happier. And it really was a great mix of people. People of all ages, men and women, minorities, and quite a few young people as well. There were even some elderly folks who braved the elements to see their president.

Now, I’ve seen President Trump speak in person twice before—once at CPAC 2017, and then again at CPAC 2020. But both times I was stuck in the media area, not with the crowd, and quite a distance away from the president. During the Erie rally, I was roughly 60 feet away from the presidential podium, and when Air Force One pulled up in all its glory it was an incredible moment of excitement and patriotism for all those in attendance.

Trump was greeted like a rock star. And to say that being at the rally felt like being a rock concert is not hyperbole. Pretty much everyone had on some Trump gear: shirts, hats, pins, flags, face masks.

During his speech, Trump presented a video, “The Democrat party hates fracking. They hate coal — good, beautiful, clean coal. They hate American energy and Joe Biden will shut it all down,” he said. “This is an original Donald Trump Broadway play,” he added, before explaining to the crowd that this was the first time he’d presented it. “I had it done specifically for the people of Erie because you guys like energy, you like being energy independent.”

Going to this rally was an incredible experience. Not just for getting to see President Trump speak, but to be around so many enthusiastic supporters—people willing to brave the elements for hours just to hear him in person. These are the people who are gonna keep Pennsylvania and Ohio red.

Even after the rally was over, people were in incredible spirits. I spoke with several attendees, locals who had gone to other rallies, and pro-Trump events in the area. They felt very confident about Trump’s chances of victory in Pennsylvania. I even heard from a couple of recent converts to the Republican Party, formerly lifelong Democrats who had enough of the party they’d identified with for so long that they couldn’t be a part of it anymore. I left the rally feeling very good about Trump’s ability to keep Pennsylvania red in 2020.

I never considered Pennsylvania being in play in 2016, and was shocked when Trump won the state. The enthusiasm for Trump, the new voter registrations in the state, and the fact Joe Biden had Barack Obama come to Philadelphia this week have me strongly believing he’s gonna do it again this year.

You can watch the entire rally below:


Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis