On Friday I went to the Donald Trump Rally in Warren. It was simultaneously exciting and depressing, tilting sharply towards the latter.
1. My morning started early — not quite bright — at 6 a.m. Snowy and icebox cold, Trump fans — and myself — huddled in a line snaking around the Macomb County Community College parking lot.
It was here that I met Marie and Bob, an older married couple, and Suzy, a lone Trump supporter, who had travelled "all the way" from Richmond to see "our next president" speak. While the duo may not have come from as far, they were still dedicated, throwing down $55 on Trump goods.
I learned a good lesson from Marie and Bob: Don't spend all your money at the first vendor. When we later came across a woman selling "Hillary for Prison" buttons, Marie voiced dismay that she had not gotten one of those.
While the Trump merch worked out for Marie, Bob and Suzy (all three were selected to sit behind the podium) — I couldn't help but feel sort of sad. Call me crazy, but $55 is sort of, I don't know, a lot of money to spend on Donald Trump. But again, I'm sure Marie and Bob would happily call me crazy if they knew my actual views on their candidate.
Couple behind me dropped $55 on Trump paraphernalia (1 MakeAmericaGreatAgain hat, 3 buttons, 1 scarf). They got asked to sit behind podium.— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
2. The depression factor on this one is self-explanatory:
Hearing Twitter trolls IRL. Thx Trump!— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
3. Through security (which took 1.5 hours), I made my way toward the front of the room. Surrounding me were a gaggle of Catholic high school boys who had skipped school to come to the rally.
The boys were rowdy and excited, and when I came over to where they were standing, one of them was mid-sentence explaining to Rhonda, an older Trump supporter, why it was "really sad" that black people always have to "bring up stuff from the past" and make it "like they're a minority still."
Rhonda laughed: "Right, like we should apologize."
I shed an invisible tear and tapped the conversation onto my cell phone. Of course, this all-knowing mega-teen didn't stop there. No, no. Rather he went on to explain how a friend of his was a fan of, wait for it, Obama (shudder) and now Bernie Sanders (double shudder), but, wait for it, the friend was "pro-life" but "didn't realize" that these two liberals were "pro-choice."
Listening to a 17- or 18-year-old boy sound off on the importance of picking candidates based off their stance on a woman's right to choose is by far the most depressing way to start the day. Like ever.
Trump's Youth, the belles of this ball. pic.twitter.com/3zQXPvMMr6— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
4. Still, I bit my tongue and tried to blend in (my coworkers laughed at me when I told them this was my game plan). For the most part I thought I was doing a good job. People were chatting with me.
"Why are they playing Pavarotti?" - astute and v legitimate question from the woman next to me. #makeamericagreatagain— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
The same woman who brought up the music decided I would be the best confidant for her theories on the sickos in the room.
"Do you see that man in the grey suit?" Rhonda asked, pointing to a thin, balding man with a lanyard hanging around his neck that read "Trump Volunteer."
"He reminds of someone from a movie who is a sexual deviant. Do you see it?"
"Um, what?" I replied.
"Yes, definitely a sexual deviant. I am a psychologist, so I know. Just look at his body language."
I looked over at the man, who was resting against one of the barricades. We were likely standing in the exact same position.
"Yeah, I guess," I replied, feeling the sheep mentality that defines these events washing over me. I was in it.
5. Until I wasn't. I blew my cover (stupid!) when I implied to the ladies standing behind me that the reserved seats in front of us may be for "donors."
As soon as the words slipped from my mouth, I knew I had messed up. The woman, a Trump pin beaming from her sweater, looked me up and down and slowly explained the obvious: "He doesn't get donations, though." She repeated it twice to make sure I got it/had been thoroughly shamed.
Trump's big talking point — that he's not "bought"— totally slipped my mind. Maybe I was remembering the fact that people like Marie and Bob just spent $55 on apparel bearing his name, or maybe I was thinking about the fact that his website has TWO donation buttons.
Regardless, the women scooted away from me, probably concerned that I'd whip out a Bernie Sanders hat and create a ruckus.
6. Fearful that my "low energy" (I was yawning) would prompt the "sexual deviant" (who seemed to be deciding who got front row access) to move me from my clutch spot by the podium, I was very grateful when people began walking onto the stage for the pre-show. Finally, I thought, something to pay attention to other than Rhonda's Facebook feed — her phone was positioned in my line of sight — which included a meme of Marco Rubio's face plastered onto "Mini-Me's" body and and an article by Ann Coulter.
... But then I realized what the "pre-show" crew was there to have us do: A totally appropriate (???) performance that weaved together church and state.
45 min till Trump. Rally just came together to bow heads for a group wide prayer. We're now on to the pledge of allegiance.— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
7. I have never seen Sen. Jack Brandenburg speak before but he is the FIRST Michigan politician to endorse Trump (Alpha Male in the house) and clearly was digging Donald, saying the No. 1 reason he supports/likes Trump was because of his "attitude." Not his policies and positions. "Attitude." An image of a Trump-inspired Bratz Doll flashed through my head.
"Donald Trump would fit in very well in Macomb County" - Sen. Jack Brandenburg. Chants: One of us!!— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
8. Not depressing, just fantastic spotting on my part. Thank you very much!
9. And THEN ... half an hour after Eventbrite said ... DONALD TRUMP ARRIVED.
Weird for some reason imagined Draco Malfoy as more of a Ted Cruz fan. pic.twitter.com/NJx0qIGlN4— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
**I spelled border wrong, I know.
"We're going to talk about trade, boarders, and have a lot of fun!" "Build a wall!!!!" Chants pic.twitter.com/rOxL9rRhhi— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
10. From there Trump talked about Mitt Romney (lots of boos!), saying the Michigander "is an elitist, but I don't consider him elite because I have much more money than him."
So basically a self-purported-populist bragging about how he has more money than the "elitist"— my head felt like it was going to explode. To take a line from my TV guilty pleasure (which I won't name out of sheer embarrassment) Donald Trump is "an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, and cash."
He also talked about waterboarding and how it was fine, but that we "should go much further."
The crowd erupted.
11. I missed the first protestor to be kicked out, but here is the second. Trump barking at the guy like he's a dog. The crowd loved it.
"OUT! OUT!" ... "That was the meekist protester ever." pic.twitter.com/leEaTwZ2yY— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
12. A memorable moment: Trump talking about how he was going to unify black and white people in America. I unfortunately had lost track of the talkative member of "Trump's Youth" who had so many opinions on this topic earlier.
13. Another protester was kicked out. The one before was wearing a Bernie Sanders hat. This one's offense was more hilarious:
Fourth protestor kicked out. This time for telling Trump to "go have sex w your daughter." pic.twitter.com/SqBYVLi12K— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
14. Donald's hands, and what those hands mean (wink, wink), have (oddly) become a big part of the GOP race. Trump addressed it head on. He, however, wasn't totally truthful. Trump said his hand size had not come up prior to "Little Marco Rubio's" commentary. Not true.
In 1988, Spy Magazine began teasing Trump about his fingers, calling him a "short-fingered vulgarian." And the diss stuck. According to former Spy Magazine editor/current Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter Trump will mail him pictures of himself and "[on] all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers."
15. In the car capital of the U.S., Trump tried to appeal to the excited Michiganders.
He also explained what he'll do as president: Preserve the second amendment, repeal Obamacare, build a wall, and get rid of Common Core Education Standards.
.@realDonaldTrump says he'll force Ford to build a new plant in the U.S. -- he's not 90 or 95% positive it will happen. He's 100% positive.— Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth) March 4, 2016
The crowd went wild.
16. And then, just like that, it was all over.
See you all at the election booths March 8!
**Names have been changed because I have a heart and, unlike Trump, I feel sort of bad publicly shaming people — even if I'm incredibly concerned about some of the comments they made.