Trump rallies West Michigan crowd

Alexander Sinn • Mar 29, 2019 at 7:00 AM

GRAND RAPIDS — A sea of red filled the streets of Grand Rapids on Thursday night as President Donald Trump made his latest stop in his bid for re-election in 2020.

The visit was his first since the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s 2016 campaign did not conclude the 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. Trump celebrated “total exoneration, complete vindication” from the investigation, which did not make a determination on whether the president had obstructed justice.

During Thursday’s rally, Trump called the Russia investigation a “hoax,” and blamed the “corrupt media” and Democrats for spreading “fake news.”

“Despite this terrible cloud — this phony, corrupt, disgusting cloud — we’ve done more together in the first two years than any administration in the history of our country,” Trump told a packed crowd at the Van Andel Arena. “This group of major losers did not just ruthlessly attack me, my family and anyone who questioned their lies, they tried to divide up our country.”

Trump called out Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has voiced continued concerns about the president’s campaign.

“Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff,” Trump said. “He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen. He’s not a long-ball hitter.”

Trump said the investigation detracted from what he has called “historic” successes on several fronts, namely job growth and the president’s recent — and first — veto in office, after Congress attempted to overrule his national emergency over his desire to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump recalled his last visit to Grand Rapids, which was also his final campaign stop in 2016 before he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. He said the Clinton campaign assumed Michigan would fall to the Democrats, but he visited twice to turn it red.

U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and John Moolenaar, R-Midland, and former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette attended Thursday’s rally. Huzienga, at a meeting with business leaders in Spring Lake this month, said he supports the president for re-election.

State Sen. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville, also attended. He said he supports Trump for his stance on redrafting the North American Fair Trade Agreement and his recent trade pressure on China.

“He’s made those tough decisions,” Victory said. “No one else has ventured into these areas. They didn’t have the political gravitas to do it.”

Victory said Trump’s policies align with West Michigan’s values, while his rhetoric is “unique,” “bold” and “out there.”

Outside the arena, red flags reading “Socialist Alternative” also flew amid the MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) hats. Hundreds of protestors lined the closed Fulton Street near the entrance to the arena.

Herb Seamons, an environmentalist who lives in Grand Rapids, said he wasn’t planning on attending the protest. But on Thursday, he came across some thrown-away cardboard someone had failed to recycle and made a sign. He drove downtown, where he expected to find no parking, and found a parking spot.

“It was fate,” Seamons said, still standing outside the arena as crowds shuffled out and made last-minute purchases of MAGA hats and T-shirts from street vendors.

Seamons’ sign read, “Stop attacking John McCain, you draft-dodging hypocrite.” The Grand Rapids native said he’s not a fan of either political extremes, but especially not of the president and his supporters.

“He’s a lot of rhetoric and no facts, and he’s stretching the facts,” Seamons said.

Trump also criticized the Democrat-proposed Green New Deal, a plan to radically transform the nation toward renewable energy.

“The Democratic Party has never been so far outside the mainstream,” he said, calling it the party of “high taxes … later-term abortions … crimes, hoaxes and delusions.”

Trump announces he will fund the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, after eliminating it in his first budget. Huizenga said previously he expected the president to fund the program, of which he is a proponent along with House Democrats. 

Trump spoke for more than an hour amid chants of “Build the wall,” “USA!” and “Lock her up!”

Brandon Hall, a GOP blogger from Grand Haven, said after the rally that Trump showed why he will win Michigan in 2020.

“Michiganders know they can trust President Trump to deliver results for them, because he has already kept more campaign promises than any other president in history,” he said.

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