Donald Trump’s Thank You Tour stops in Des Moines

President-elect Donald Trump waves to nearly 4,000 supporters in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. -- photo by Zak Neumann.
President-elect Donald Trump waves to nearly 4,000 supporters in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. — photo by Zak Neumann.

President-elect Donald Trump visited Des Moines yesterday as one of the stops on his Thank You Tour. This tour is traveling to battleground states — including Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina — that favored Trump on Nov. 8 as a means of thanking his supporters.

The Iowa Events Center’s Hy-Vee Hall hosted a crowd of about 4,000 decked out in red, white and blue garb, military regalia, gear emblazoned with the “Make America Great Again” slogan and even in patriotic costumes, including one convincing Abraham Lincoln.

The speakers

Tana Goertz, a former Apprentice contestant and co-chair of Trump’s Iowa Campaign, opened the event, commenting on Iowa’s shift from supporting Obama in 2008 and 2012 to supporting Trump in 2016.

“Who’s excited that Iowa turned from blue to red?” she asked, which was met with a roar of applause.

Trump, known for his brazen statements, won’t be held back by political correctness, Goertz said.

“When he’s president, it is going to be okay to say Merry Christmas,” she said.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence followed Goertz. Pence spoke to the families and colleagues of the two Des Moines and Urbandale police officers lost in an ambush on Nov. 2. He framed Trump as the president who would restore law and order, rebuild the military and protect both “the sanctity of life” and the Second Amendment.

President-elect Donald Trump’s most consistent rhetoric was that of what he called the forgotten demographic, which he claimed to champion.

“This is truly an exciting time to be alive,” Trump said. “The script is not yet written, each of you will be the authors. Your story will no longer fall on deaf ears.”

At first, he described this demographic as working class, white men and women, then expanded it include female veterans.

“We need the best healthcare for female veterans,” he said. “They’ve really had it tougher than anyone.”

He added that he would make supporting women one of his priorities while in office.

“I’ll trade the men for the women,” he said of his supporters. “With the males I set the records, but who cares?”

He also gave credit to Evangelical voters for his win, which garnered an eruption of applause, and promised to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations, like churches, from participating in political activities.

The forgotten demographic plays into theories following the election about demographics and regions that were overlooked by the Hillary Clinton campaign and by the Democratic Party as a whole, leading to the loss of electoral support in the the Rust Belt and low voter turnout in the South.

In a brief appearance, Gov. Terry Branstad, who earlier this week accepted Trump’s nomination as ambassador to China, affirmed his dedication to serving Iowa and Americans as a part of the Trump Administration. After Branstad left the stage, Trump jested by recounting times when Branstad reportedly said, “Please, Mr. Trump, don’t say anything bad about China. I’ve got friends there.”

Trump also divulged some backstory about adopting the slogan attributed to Reagan, “Drain the swamp.” He said that when he first read that line in his speech, he thought it was “too hokey.” But after audiences responded positively to it the first few times, he “started saying it like [he] meant it” and then maintained it throughout his campaign.

Protestors disrupted the opening of Trump’s speech. Three protestors held up a fabric banner which read “Iowa says no hate” while chanting, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” A few crowd members tore at their sign before the police escorted the protesters out.

The talking points

Multiple speakers mentioned the recent deal between the Trump Administration and Carrier, in which Carrier’s parent company United Technologies was offered millions in state tax credits to keep about 800 jobs in Indiana. Roughly 1,300 jobs will still be sent to Mexico. However, Trump, Pence and Goertz claimed he saved 1,100 jobs.

In addition to promoting his plans to save American jobs, Trump touted his pro-business agenda, including cutting regulations that hinder small businesses and dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency — although he then stressed the importance of conservation efforts and guaranteed “clean air and water for every American.”

Since laying claim to the phrase “build the wall,” immigration issues have been key for Trump. While Pence stated that Trump would build the wall along the southern border of Mexico and “end illegal immigration once and for all” — inspiring the audience to chant “Build the wall” — Trump himself took a relatively milder approach.

While still urging extreme vetting, he said they’re going to build the wall with “big beautiful doors,” allowing people to immigrate legally and welcome people who “have a true capability to love us, not hate us.”

The crowd

Pat and Shawna Astor, residents of Des Moines and parents of three, said they weren’t interested in politics until their premiums through Obamacare began increasing.

“We work two jobs each and we just want to be able to afford healthcare,” Pat Astor said.

Mark Cisneros, a commercial truck driver and resident of Johnson County, said he was originally a Cruz supporter, but became a Trump supporter when he clinched the nomination. He said Trump’s selection of Gov. Terry Branstad as ambassador to China and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education have “affirmed his confidence as a Republican,” and made him hopeful about the new administration.

Roy Bradbury II, a Korean War veteran and former mayor of Des Peres, Mississippi, said there has been a sense of “jubilance” since Trump won the election.

“He is a get-it-done, no-nonsense, leader of men,” Bradbury said. “Liberals are going to have to squirm in their juices; we’re going to turn political correctness on it’s ear.”

Photos by Zak Neumann

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