Trump supporters celebrate U.S. economy, foreign policy at Milwaukee rally

By Alison Saldanha
Medill Reports

More than 12,000 core supporters and some non-supporters filled the indoor University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena in downtown Milwaukee for President Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday while a large crowd of about 200 overflowed outside the stadium to watch him on a big screen.

Shrugging off the chilly Midwest winter, they enthusiastically stood in the parking lot, dressed in varied “Trump 2020” accessories,
applauded his speech, chanting slogans and loudly jeering at every mention of a Democrat or the impeachment proceedings.

For many attendees, the chief reason drawing them to the parking lot on Tuesday, was the surge in employment rates and wages, which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence cited in their speeches that night, and the government’s stringent immigration policies. That’s where I stood with them to cover the rally.

“The American economy is booming,” said Vice president Mike Pence, introducing Trump.

Since Election Day 2016 businesses large and small have created 7.1 million new jobs, including 37,000 good-paying jobs right here in the Badger State. Unemployment is at a 50-year low, the stock market is soaring and more Americans are working harder than ever before in the history of this country. Pence said.

Trump enumerated the achievements under his presidency. We have eliminated a record number of job destroying regulations

While unemployment is indeed at its lowest on record in Wisconsin, the trend of wages rising actually began three years prior to Trump taking office, during former President Barack Obama’s term, when it climbed to an average of about 6%, Politifact reported.

But Riley, 61, a high-school special-needs teacher, who declined to give her full name, said she feels Trump truly believes in America.

“I think he’s been fighting, trying to get jobs back in America instead of trying to chase them away. I like that he’s trying to balance our trade agreements,” she said, adding that she feels safer under a Republican government. “I don’t worry that someone is gonna drop a bomb on Milwaukee.”

Hilton Harrell Jr., one of the few African American supporters at the rally, said he likes Trump because he is not a “globalist leader” — a leader he described as caring more for the interests of nations other than America.

“Trump does something totally different — he isn’t like Republicans or Democrats. He is unique in that he just wants what is good for America,” said the 46-year-old, who works as a caregiver.

He claimed the Democrats are more racist than Trump and the administration’s tough immigration policies are not xenophobic or racist but cautious for security reasons.

“We want people to come over through the right ways so we know who they are, you know. Like, if I open my door, I want to know who is coming in,” Harell said.

Last year, nearly 70,000 migrant children, primarily from Central America, were held in government custody, 42% more detainees than in 2018. And the duration of family separation had also increased despite the government being aware of the harm this does to them, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 12.

“They’re fleeing often to save their own lives, because violence and abuse, even murder, are committed with impunity under corrupt governments the U.S. has supported for decades,” the report said.

Holden, 21, a line service technician at a Milwaukee airport, attending his first rally since he first voted for the president in 2016 said he is glad to see more focus on American economic interests, but is wary of a looming war with Iran.

Tensions with the Middle Eastern country had been rising since Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and spiked recently with the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani on Jan. 3, followed by Iran’s retaliatory missile attack of a U.S. air base in Iraq.

“Iran kept calling us out and they kept sort of attacking us and we couldn’t take that lying down but I don’t want to go to war with them, I think it will be a waste of resources,” he said, adding he would reconsider voting for Trump if tensions further escalate.

“We’ll see what the other Republican candidates look like this time but you know Trump’s probably the strongest and he’s got the best chance of winning,” he said.

Photo at top: Over 200 people waited outside the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena to watch President Trump address the rally in downtown Milwaukee on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Trump supporters touted the country’s economic growth and tough foreign policies as successes of the Trump administration. (Alison Saldanha/MEDILL)