By Adrienne Conley | Co-Editor in Chief
It was 10:40, right before my 11:00 am Intermediate Accounting class, when a friend asked if I was going to the Donald Trump rally that afternoon. I wasn’t going because I had forgotten to reserve a ticket, and they had been sold out for a couple days. Regardless, I pulled up the website to check. Just like I thought, sold out. But then I saw something that caught my eye. It was a button that read “Media Request.” Bingo. I would go as a reporter for the Gyrene Gazette. I quickly filled out a form and offered up a prayer. At 12:01 pm I got my answer: “If you are receiving this email you have been credentialed for today’s event in Fort Myers, Florida.” I was in!
When I arrived at the event, I was able to cut the line teaming with thousands of revelers, and go straight to the media check-in at the door.
They checked my name off the list, I was handed a press pass, and waved in.
Once inside, I was directed to the media section, which was on the floor of the arena facing the podium that Trump and the other speakers would be at, a prime vantage point. Once inside the press box, I took a seat near the Naples Daily News and Wink-TV (the station always on at The Bean). Media perk: Newt Gingrich walked through our area and shook hands with people in the crowd from behind the barriers. For some reason, few of the other reporters approached to shake his hand, but I was sure to take advantage of the opportunity! Our beloved professor Dr. New, who was there with National Review, was slightly less fortunate. He did manage to get his picture along side Newt, though. Later in his speech, Newt mentioned “the folk in the media” and gestured to us. Then the crowd turned to us and started booing like crazy. So I guess I’m one of the bad guys now?
This would hardly be a news article if I failed to mention the rally itself. In case you’re wondering, yes, Trump did say he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. I heard five speakers, including Congressman Francis Rooney, Newt Gingrich, and the main spectacle, Donald J. Trump, himself. The arena, which seated 8,000 people, was sold out, with even more people watching the live stream outside on a Jumbotron.
One of my favorite moments was an announcement regarding protesters. In the case of someone “taking advantage of Mr. Trump’s hospitality” (aka someone disrupting the rally) the crowd was instructed to, first of all, not touch or harm the protester, and secondly, raise their Trump-Pence signs above their heads while chanting “TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP” as they waited for security to take care of the situation. Now this presupposed two things, first that you had a Trump-Pence sign at the ready and second, that you would somehow bring attention to yourself by chanting “Trump” with your sign up at a Trump rally. So based on what I saw, there were either tons of protesters or tons of people who missed the announcement, and didn’t realize that they were unintentionally calling security.
But, on to more serious matters. Trump talked much about the recent terror attacks and said “we will defeat radical Islamic terrorism just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before,” but that we cannot defeat it “with closed eyes or silent voices.” “Just like we named our enemy in the cold war, so too, must we name our enemy today.” “Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, the oppression, and violence of radical Islam lacks the moral character to serve as our president.” “It’s time for tough borders. It’s time for common sense. It’s time to do things right. We have to put America first.” Trump sited multiple recent terrorist attacks and the genocide of Christians. He added that “We cannot let this evil continue… nor can we let the hateful ideology of radical Islam, its oppression of women, gays, nonbelievers be allowed to reside or spread within our country”.
What Trump didn’t talk about: the student debt crisis. But, seeing as this is Florida during snow bird migration season (queue the “Grandma’s for Trump sign”), issues such as securing the border and national security seemed a bit more pressing to all. His references to fighting evil, Christian genocide, and human oppression, do strike a chord with me as a Catholic student. From Trump we hear the call for a new leader to take the presidential stage.
As Trump left the stage, the song, “You Can’t Always get What You Want” was played. This message applies to many who voted for Cruz and Sanders in the primaries. Whether or not you got what you wanted early on, it’s up to you at this point to choose what it is you need, and what our country needs.
God Bless America!
It’s 2016 y’all, get out and vote!
Cover photo credit: Nichole Kendall