Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump made his eighth appearance in Colorado Saturday, coming as close to heavily-populated Denver as he could without actually setting foot in it.
Trump greeted about 2,500 supporters at a rally at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds near Golden. At least another thousand were diverted to overflow areas outside the arena.
Jefferson County is a perfect location for the Republican nominee. While county voters do send Democrats to the state House and Senate, all but one of the elected countywide officials in Jeffco are Republicans: two of the three members of the county commission, the clerk and recorder, sheriff, district attorney, treasurer and assessor.
The fairgrounds arena, which is normally jam-packed with equestrian activities on Saturdays, saw hundreds show up for the rally in cowboy hats and boots, keeping in style with the saddles and bales of hay that were propped up behind Trump’s podium.
The rally began with remarks from Republican state Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster, who led the crowd in a “lock her up” chant, a reference to Trump’s Democratic presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “You just got all the jitters out of my stomach,” Woods said to a cheering crowd.
She then launched into a litany of Republican talking points regarding Clinton, including the 2012 deaths of four Americans at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya and the idea that Clinton received debate questions in advance (a claim disputed by the Presidential Debate Commission).
Woods also said Clinton is scheming to steal the election, a nod to Trump’s statements in the past several weeks that the election would be rigged against him.
Woods took aim at the media, another favorite Trump target, stating the media “has skewed the polls to make you think Hillary will win. The goal is to discourage conservatives from voting,” she said. But the attendance at Saturday’s rally “is a much better poll than anything the media is reporting,” she added.
“I’m a Trump supporter because I believe he will lead our country to greatness once again,” Woods said.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who travels frequently with Trump, discussed Friday’s revelation that the FBI was continuing to look into Clinton emails, this time related to former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
“I’ve had it up to here with Hillary Clinton and the scandals!” Flynn exclaimed. “This country needs to put the Clintons in our rear view mirrors and say goodbye.” That led to more chants of “lock her up!”
Trump began his 50-minute speech by encouraging the crowd to drop off their ballots, not mail them in. “I have a real problem with ballots being sent,” he said, adding that he believes some ballots from Republicans will be thrown out. That led to a Twitter response from Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels, who tweeted “I can’t watch the tweets on what @realDonaldTrump is saying about our incredibly secure elections in CO. I will go nuts.”
Trump moved on to Obamacare, telling people their insurance plans will be canceled for next year. “Ninety percent of the counties in Colorado are losing their insurers” and some will have none, he said. (The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Thursday that 14 of Colorado’s 64 counties will be down to one insurer, and no county will be without an insurer.) Trump claimed his plan will be better, less expensive and will “bring sanity back to health care.”
But Trump devoted the largest portion of his speech to the latest Clinton email scandal. “This is the biggest political scandal since Watergate,” Trump said. (A Watergate prosecutor has called that claim “totally absurd.”)
Trump said, without citing proof, that Clinton set up the “illegal” server for the “obvious purpose of shielding criminal conduct” from disclosure, and deleted 33,000 emails after receiving a congressional subpoena (a claim that Politifact said is “half true.”) That led to more chants of “lock her up!” from the crowd. Trump also claimed the Department of Justice is trying to protect Clinton, pointing out that 97 percent of the contributions made by DOJ employees went to Clinton. The system is rigged, he said, and offered as proof that Clinton offered Attorney General Loretta Lynch a reappointment as Attorney General. (The New York Times reported in July that Clinton is in fact considering a reappointment for Lynch.)
“We’re living in a third world country,” Trump told the audience. “This is the lowest point in terms of our judicial system, in the history of our country. Remember that.”
Trump promised to end government corruption and take the country back from special interests and donors. “When we win on November 8, we will go to Washington, D.C. and ‘drain the swamp,’” a recent catchphrase from the GOP nominee. He pledged to lower taxes on business from 35 percent to 15 percent, put coal miners and steelworkers back to work and “unleash the full power of American energy” in oil, clean coal, natural gas and shale.
Trump also touched on legal and illegal immigration, blasting Clinton, whom he said wants to increase immigration by Syrian refugees by 550 percent (a claim verified by Politifact, although the increase is from 10,000 to 65,000 refugees.). “We don’t know where they’re moving from, we know nothing about them, are they ISIS, are they not ISIS?”
Trump promised that Gulf States will pay for the United States to build safe havens for those refugees. And he reiterated a previous claim that Mexico will pay for a border wall (CNN reported in August that Mexican President Nieto told Trump his country would not pay for that wall.)
After the rally, State GOP Chair Steve House told The Colorado Independent that he thought Trump is now more focused on the issues, such as Obamacare, an issue House said is important to Coloradans.
“It’s win or die,” said Kent Lodge of Centennial, after the speech. Lodge came to the rally from Centennial with friend Lawrence Depenbusch, also of Centennial. “It was terrific…the crowd, it was a lovefest,” Depenbusch said.
But as Lodge sees it, Trump “needs to win this or the nation will simply dry up. We’ve lost the concept of loyal opposition. Democrats do not respect anything that we are and we are finally fighting back.”
Trump himself was confident. “The end result will be a big, beautiful victory,” he said. “We’re 10 days away from the change you’ve all been waiting for your entire life.”
Photos by Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent