Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Trump Rocks Freedom Hall
I attended last night's Trump rally at Louisville's Freedom Hall, along with 15,000 of my closest friends. I must admit that I was shocked at the turnout -- which forced organizers to open up extra seating and yet still couldn't hold all the people in line.
The energy was amazing. After all the progressive bitterness over the results of the election, it was refreshing to be with people who were happy with the outcome and optimistic about the future.
Perhaps that's why the crowd was so polite, even as we waited for hours for the rally to begin and then for at least an hour to exit the parking lot. There was just a lot more good will than one usually sees with a crowd this size.
I was struck by the number of women. We're constantly told that women don't like Republicans generally and President Donald Trump in particular. And yet women came in droves. What the pollsters tend to not report is that the so-called gender gap favors Republicans when marital status is considered: married women are much more conservative than single women. Indeed, many (perhaps most) of the the women I saw at the rally appeared to be with their husband. A whole new twist on date night!
The warm-up prior to Trump's arrival underscored the strength of the Republican bench in Kentucky. Rep. Jonathan Shell served as emcee. Shell was in charge of candidate recruitment -- the key to Republicans winning the Kentucky House for the first time in 92 years. Shell demonstrated last night that he can also give a good speech.
Likewise for Sen. Ralph Alvarado. He was a fitting speaker choice for last night, given his speech at the Republican National Convention and his expertise on Obamacare from the perspective of a primary care physician. He did not disappoint.
Gov. Matt Bevin got a standing O as soon as he walked into Freedom Hall with his big, beautiful family. During Bevin's speech, it is easy to imaging him running for president and doing quite well.
Lt. Gov. Jenean always inspires. I noticed Bevin smiling with pride as she spoke. One line that spoke to me from her speech was when she explained how she grew up in Michigan but came to Kentucky, and said "the long answer is God and the short answer is God," or words to that effect.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on hand to welcome the president. Kentucky would not have become a red state without his leadership. What a transformation he has wrought.
After the warm-up portion ended and the crowd awaited Trump, someone started doing The Wave. I've never, ever seen that at a political rally. But it was a good idea and a fun way to pass the time and keep the energy up.
Trump's speech covered a plethora of policies and focused less on health care than I expected. He was very gracious regarding Sen. Rand Paul -- a smart move, since this crowd loves Rand.
Trump received a huge ovation for his promise of tax cuts. Interestingly, Trump said that those tax cuts would have to wait until after Obamacare was repealed and replaced. That was brilliant strategically; it makes anyone who delays repeal and replace look like they are delaying Americans' tax cuts.
Clearly, Trump enjoys rallies and seems to have a fondness for Kentucky. Last night demonstrated that the feeling is mutual.