My Editor-in-Chief, Kennedy, and I left school a little early to get to the rally. Her mom drove us there so we didn’t have to worry about parking. We tried to get there quickly, so we stopped at McDonald’s. We didn’t know if there would be concessions (there were). As we quickly stuffed down our food, we pulled up Google Maps to arrange our pick-up with our ride.
We got downtown and the realization of the situation we were putting ourselves in became apparent. We saw protesters and supporters yelling at each other, but we didn’t see anyone getting physical with each other. That calmed my nerves. Also, there were about a million cop cars surrounding Rupp Arena. There weren’t as many roads blocked off as we thought there would be, so we were dropped off right in front of the Arena.
When we exited the car, we asked a police officer for directions. They told us to head toward the side entrance of Rupp so we walked to the end of the line that zigzagged all the way through the back parking lot (about 700 feet). Kennedy and I had a lot of fun looking at all the Trump supporters decked out in all their Trump contraband from makeshift carts selling things like flags with Trump holding a machine gun and standing on a tank, and MAGA hats including my personal favorite: hats that said: “Make AOC a Bartender Again.”
When we finally arrived at the door (about 30 minutes later), we had to go through metal detectors similar to those at school, but instead of friendly safety ambassadors, there were cops with full-body bulletproof suits. One thing that surprised me as we entered was that we didn’t actually need a ticket to enter even though we reserved ours on the Trump website.
We got to our seats in section 25 of the lower arena directly facing the podium. There was pretty good music playing like “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John. We were on the outer two seats, and then two ladies from Maysville came and sat next to us. We chatted, and they asked us a few questions and told us where they were from. They were pretty nice. Then Kennedy and I waited for the event to begin.
Things started ramping up. “YMCA” by the Village People started playing and everyone in the stadium started dancing and singing.
Matt Bevin entered the arena between sections 16-17 which was diagonally from where we were sitting. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. He walked down the stairs shaking people’s hands and then he gave a little speech. He said not only was he going to win, but that KY was going to have a full Republican ticket. The crowd went nuts. Then he went behind the stage to the locker room area.
The stage was empty, and there wasn’t really anything going on, so people were getting bored. Kennedy and I started filming ourselves lip-synching to the songs. A red-headed lady started dancing on the floor in front of the stage to “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner; it was entertaining.
Kennedy and I decided to go get ice cream, and the nice ladies held our seat for us. She also gave us gum.
The crowd started doing the wave when Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” started playing. Even people in the upper arena were doing the wave which went around about 10 times.
We were all getting excited because hyped-up entrance music started playing. Everyone stood up because they thought Trump was coming in, but he wasn’t.
The stage was still empty, and it felt like time was going so slow as we waited on Trump to arrive. “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty was playing, and when it stopped we got anxious that it was time. But then another song started.
Singer Lee Greenwood walked out and started belting out “God Bless the USA” in a live performance (the song came out in 1984). Everyone went crazy. About halfway through the song, Trump started walking out. He walked to the podium and stood by as Greenwood finished the song, sometimes pointing to him like “wow, he’s really good.” A lot of people were singing along.
Trump started talking about how Kentucky was thriving “more than ever before.” While he’s talking, the crowd is silent. You could hear a pin drop. Then he talked about Al Baghdadi and how he killed him, and how he’s going to kill his successor next. The crowd cheered. He said “American Special Forces gave the biggest terrorist a one-way ticket to hell.” The crowd went insane–like seriously ballistic.
Then he talks about how the Democrats are suppressing everyone, mentioning the Covington Catholic boys. That started his rant about Democrats in general. He said “Nancy Pelosi and Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff need to stop wasting their time” in reference to the impeachment inquiries. The crowd booed when he said the word “impeachment.” Then he said that cities like L.A. look like a “third world city.” Everyone laughed.
Trump moved on to the Stock Market as being “the highest it’s ever been in American history.” The crowd began cheering, “USA, USA, USA.” He moved on to the media (everyone booed) and then he pointed at the press box and the crowd pointed and booed with him. He kept yelling “fake news” which some in the crowd also joined. Someone in the upper arena shouted “F**k you, Trump” and security immediately grabbed him to escort him out. Trump noticed and said, “Be gentle, be careful. I don’t want to be sued. He’s going home to his mom.” The crowd roared with laughter.
Trump compared the Republican and Democratic parties saying that the Republicans are as united as they’ve ever been while Democrats aren’t. He said, “The Dems need to get the hell out of office.” He started talking about Matt Bevin who walked over to stand closer to Trump, who said: “[Bevin] is such as pain in the ass, but that’s what you want in a Governor, right?” Bevin kind of laughed. Throughout Trump’s entire speech, no one in the arena sat down.
Trump addressed Bevin’s opponent, Andy Beshear, next. “This guy, Beshear, is a major lefty.” Then he joked, “Are we sure we need an election tomorrow?” he asked the crowd. Then he moved on to the whistleblower which caused an uproar. Trump said, “Andy Beshear rejects everything Kentucky stands for.” The crowd booed at the mention of Beshear’s name.
Matt Bevin came up and started speaking about how Trump endorsed him, and how Trump is great. “You guys like Trump,” he said. “You should vote for me.”
Around this time, Kennedy and I decided to leave because it seemed like Trump was finished speaking. Plus, we didn’t want to be in the mass of everyone leaving. Kennedy called her mom on my phone since hers had died. We were in a crowd of Trump supporters as we left the rally, so we were booed by protestors. As we walked down Broadway headed past Triangle Park, Kennedy’s whole family came to get us. They spotted us on the sidewalk and stopped. They opened the door of their van and urged us to get in. At first, I was like, “Are we being kidnapped?” Then I saw Kennedy’s sister.
We headed away from Rupp Arena, and they dropped me off at my house. My Trump rally experience was over. Even though I’m a member of the Democratic Party, I went into the Trump rally trying to be an unbiased reporter. With that being said, it was difficult to be surrounded by people with such a polar opposite view of my own. The atmosphere was really fun and I had a really good time. Despite my best efforts to hate it, it was an experience that I’m glad that I witnessed.