Pres. Trump supporters share perspectives from Rochester rally

Published 10:19 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

Editor’s Note: The Austin Daily Herald revisited some of the individuals who attended President Donald Trump’s rally on Thursday to share their experiences. Some of the individuals who were previously interviewed could not be reached by press time.

When President Donald Trump made his stop in Rochester Thursday night, Daniel Mueller wanted a chance to see a sitting president up close.

The 38-year-old Austin man wanted to bring his friend, Erwin Strommer, a World War II and Korean War veteran with disabilities, and reached out to event organizers to see what kind of accommodations could be made for him. What Mueller didn’t expect was a VIP pass to bypass a waiting line and to get a special seat.

Erwin Strommer, a World War II and Korean War veteran, shows off his VIP tag to the rally. Photo by Daniel Mueller

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While there, he said that several Republican candidates went out of their way to greet Strommer and thanked him for his military service.

“It is a great honor to be able to see the president of your country, no matter if I support him or not,” Mueller said. “He represents me to the world, and I wanted to experience what a President Trump rally would actually be like. …so I reached out to the Republican party organizers, and they were helpful and wanted to support helping Erv participate without having to wait in long lines as a disabled veteran.”

This marked the first time that Mueller got to experience a presidential rally, although he had met with candidates from different ends of the political spectrum and listened to what they believed for Minnesota and the United States.

“It was quite different from what I expected,” he said. “It had great excitement but it was not the negative place that everyone told me it could be. When President Trump left, my friend Erv stood up, something that is very difficult for him to do, and said that he feels honored to live under this president.”

After listening to Trump speak, Mueller stated he felt “blessed to be an American” and that seeing other governments and political systems made him embrace an event that “celebrate our American values.”

“I only wish that those things were shared on the news instead of highlights on things that draw us further apart,” he expressed. “With all of those groups there, I was impressed with the great respect there was for each other. Young people held doors for those older, hundreds of people thanked my friend Erv for his service as was true of many veterans. …at the end, most people cleaned up after themselves and exited peacefully. It took us much longer to leave, so we stopped and talked to the police and they even were impressed with the crowd.”

Along with the supporters, there were protesters. While driving downtown, Mueller saw numerous out-of-state license plates, as well as signs with many people yelling at each other. He felt disappointed, Mueller said, because he said he saw a “stark contrast” to what the rally inside Mayo Civic Center was like.

“When I got home and posted pictures, I got several hateful tirades from people on Facebook but just ignored those because I experienced something very different from what is shown on the media,” he said. “An event of celebration for America and the successes that are happening and an energized and united group desiring to impact their communities and the country for good.”

Isaac Zerke

The 14-year-old Austin High School freshman enjoyed his experience witnessing a chapter of history unfold in Rochester.

Isaac Zerke

After standing in line, Zerke managed to get into Mayo Civic Center with his grandmother and great-aunt, along with several of her friends to go see Trump. The atmosphere, he described to be enthusiastic and that majority of the folks there were “very nice.”

“We were right in in the middle of a big group that was in front of the podium,” Zerke said. “It was happy and fun. There were a bunch of high school and early college-age people there. There were a lot of kids there too. I think the youngest I’ve seen was a six-year-old.”

There were several instances that Zerke disagreed with. As Trump directed another series of attacks toward media outlets at the rally, the audience turned around to boo at them. Zerke felt disappointed with that display.

“That I sort of disagreed with,” he said. “They weren’t doing anything wrong. They were cameramen, and most of the people there were local news. Some from national Yeah, those people were just doing their jobs. They didn’t really have much to do with anything higher up. It’s kind of a ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ sort of thing.”

He saw the protesters out in crows, but Zerke said that they didn’t really bother anyone for the most part. Trump supporters started chanting loudly over them to express their side.

“They never really bothered us,” he said. “The line was so loud we could barely hear them. But, protesters never really bothered us. There was no fighting or anything bad like that. There were maybe one or two people who from the rally who walked over to them and bug them. Everyone was really well behaved, except for the protesters and people yelling ‘Trump’.”

Roland Smith

Smith decided to ditch his original idea of heading into Rochester on Thursday afternoon, and decided to camp out the night before, and saw at least 40 people who had similar thoughts.

Roland Smith

“I’ve camped out for a concert,” Smith said. “Never for anything political. Before Trump, I was never political at all. He’s not a normal politician between his brain and mouth. But, I kinda like that about him. He tells things the way it is. I’m tired of the political (crap) that everybody in our country like to keep going backward on each and every year.”

Smith’s only qualm about the event was that the size of the venue was too small to accommodate the number of people who turned up for the rally.

“The only negative was that they overbooked it,” he said. “If I followed through my original plan, I wouldn’t have been able to see them. I reserved these tickets, but no one wanted tickets. You could’ve just walked in. It stayed in my pocket the whole time and never had to take it out.”

While downtown Smith said that the protesters for the most part were respectful, and that there weren’t any clashes between rally attendees and those who were outside demonstrating with heavy police presence around. Despite feeling tired from camping out, Smith expressed that he walked out “energized.”

“I loved it,” he said. “I think more of him than what I did before. I made quite a few new friends while waiting outside. It was a very positive experience.”