US President Trump solutes from Air Force One after arriving in New Jersey.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
WASHINGTON – Tina Martin paid $644 for a round-trip ticket to Washington because the Indiana native felt it was important to show up to President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” event at the National Mall.
“I’m staying at the Watergate Hotel because it’s got that scandalous reputation,” she said, smiling.
When Martin saw Trump’s tweet, inviting Americans to celebrate, she decided to travel all the way to the capital. “I thought it was a beautiful idea,” she told The Jerusalem Post.
“I love him. He’s imperfect. I’m imperfect. I feel like he loves me even though he doesn’t know me personally – like he loves the American people.”
Asked if the main reason for her travel was to show support for Trump or to celebrate the 4th of July, she responded: “Honestly, I think it’s probably more of a support for our president, for the POTUS. The 4th of July is wonderful ‘cause it’s our Independence Day. So it’s both. But if I have to be real about it, it is because of the POTUS.”
Martin was not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the event, despite adverse weather conditions that included a combination of 30 degrees Celsius (86°F), 87% humidity, mosquitoes and occasional thunderstorms. The crowds cheered whenever a different aircraft crossed the Mall. Many of those in attendance arrived wearing MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) hats.
Outside, on Constitution Avenue, entrepreneurs sold “Trump 2020” hats and other merchandise. The line to the security check stretched over three blocks. After a one-hour wait, at 6:30 pm, Trump started his speech. People in line took their smartphones out and watched it live on the Fox News app.
During the wait, protesters along the avenue held signs critical of Trump. But inside, it was a home game for the president.
Gena Krumholtz and Mick Fugitz drove down from Baltimore, holding a sign featuring Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., dressed like superheroes with the caption: “Trump 2020, Trump Jr. 2024.”
“The people that are criticizing him criticize him no matter what he does,” said Fugitz. “If he would cure cancer, they would hate him. They would say he is a bad guy for curing cancer. That’s how ridiculous it is.”
“She just had hip surgery, I had knee placement, and we’re here. We stood in the lines,” Krumholtz said.
Not far away from Fugitz and Krumholtz, a group of people sat on a bench and mingled. They all arrived from different places and had never met before. Margaret, who didn’t give her last name, had a long train ride from Illinois.
“President Trump invited us. We showed up,” she said. “If you’re invited to a party, you show up. I love it. All we’ve done is meet wonderful patriots. Kind. Things in common. We didn’t know each other. We met. We’ve been together for hours now.”
Chris and Tricia flew to Washington for the first time in their life. She told The Jerusalem Post that in the 24 hours they had spent in Washington, she had been exposed to mostly negative comments about the event. “We have been hearing people talking. They repeat most of the mainstream media. I heard them saying, ‘Oh, he’s spending so much money on the planes driving over, nobody will show up, it’s going to rain, the trains will destroy the roads.’”
Asked about criticism from Trump’s opponents who said the event was a partisan celebration, Chris pushed back. “He did not say anything about vote for me in 2020. He did not say anything about his supporters out there. He did not say anything about that. He kept it strictly about our history with the military. There was no party affiliation whatsoever.”
He added that the size of the crowd should indicate the popularity of Trump and his chances of reelection. “Trump has near 100% chance of being reelected,” he said. You go to a Biden rally, he’s lucky to put 200 people in a high school gym. Hillary only attracted crowds if she brought in rock stars. This man does not have to do that.”
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