By Nikki McKim; photos by Brian McKim and Nikki McKim
President Donald Trump made a historical campaign stop in Omaha last night with one week to go before the election.
Nebraska is one of two states, the other being Maine, that allow electoral votes to be divided. In 2016, President Trump took all five of Nebraska’s electoral votes. Former President Obama was the last Democrat to win Nebraska’s second district in 2008.
Arriving before 8 p.m. last night on Air Force One to the sounds of ‘In the Air Tonight,’ by Phil Collins and thousands of cheering fans, the President was in good spirits after a long day of campaigning in Michigan and Wisconsin.
The President spoke before a crowd of an estimated 10,000 with what looked to be another 2,000 in line outside still waiting to get in as it started to wind down half an hour later. (Some reports estimate the crowd at 5,000 and some estimate the crowd at 20,000 this was my estimate having stood and watched the crowd grow around me for five hours.)
The President delivers his speech
The President told the crowd that he would “deliver epic job growth and a safe vaccine that eradicates the virus and quickly ends the pandemic,” despite growing COVID numbers in Nebraska. He said, “next year will be the greatest economic year in the history of our country. That’s where we’re heading.”
During his 47-minute speech, President Trump emphasized that he doesn’t always play by the rules of the Washington establishment, “because I was elected to fight for you,” he said.
Speaking about COVID to the crowd of several unmasked attendees, Trump said, “And until I came along, you were supposed to have lifetime immunity. Right? I said, “Well, I’m recovered. I feel great. And I’m immune.” I could jump right into this road. I could kiss every man and woman, every man and woman. But because it was me, the press said, “No, it’s not for a lifetime. It’s only for four months. Immunity is only now for four months.” They brought it down, right? It was always going to be for a lifetime; now it’s four months. So what are you going to do? What are you going to do? It’s one of those things, but I guarantee you this. On November 4th, you won’t be hearing as much about this. It’s going to be right now; it’s COVID, COVID, COVID no matter what happens. COVID, COVID.”
Later the President praised Governor Pete Ricketts on what a great job he is doing. “Great Job. What a good guy. What a good man. How’s your state doing, Pete?” asked the President. “It’s wonderful,” responded the Governor.
The President almost immediately called out the media corps who showed up to the rally to cover the event. “Where is the fake news? It’s over there? Oh, that’s a lot of cameras. No, it’s going up. They’re very concerned. They’re very, very concerned. All over. Florida is looking great. Now, Nebraska we know is looking great. Okay? I mean, in theory, I didn’t really have to be here, but it’s nice to be with your friends,” the statement was met with boos from the crowd.
The President criticized his opponent Former Vice President Joe Biden, This election is a matter of economic survival for Omaha and for communities all across our country. Joe Biden’s agenda, and I’m not sure it’s only Biden’s agenda, let’s face it. It’s not his agenda. It sounds nice, Biden’s agenda. The guys shot. He’s shot. He’s so gonzo. You saw him yesterday; they took him away.”
The speech, the shortest the President’s given on the campaign trail since recovering from COVID, ended with the President saying; We have made America strong again. We have made America proud again. We have made America safe again, and we will make America great again. Thank you, Nebraska. Thank you, Iowa.”
The President was on the stage for just over 45 minutes before heading back to Washington, D.C.
The rally was held outside of Eppley Airfield. Spectators were shuttled in from airport parking lots over three miles away. It was reported after 6 p.m. that the Omaha Police Department said that shuttles for transportation would no longer be taking people to the event’s location.
Some spectators arrived before 1 p.m. to see the President speak with the doors opening at 4:30 p.m.
Midway through the rally, at least one man was escorted out and taken to the hospital for unknown reasons.
After the Rally
Attendees of the rally were left in 35-degree weather after the event. Many waited for busses to arrive to take them back to the lots where they parked their cars and were shuttled to the event site over three miles away.
According to local Police Tracker, Omaha Scanner, medics treated numerous parties as they left the event. Some of the issues were dizziness, fatigue, possible hypothermia, and seizures. Douglas County 911 Northeast Precinct Dispatch advised that they received calls from the public saying that the elderly needed assistance. At 11:04 p.m. Omaha Scanner reported, “One officer advising eight to nine elderly people who are struggling. Separate officer advising they have located an elderly party who is frozen cold, unable to move with an altered mental status.” Officers were deployed to parking lots to help push out empty busses to make it to the rally attendees who were waiting after the event. Some people attempted to walk the 3.7 miles to the lot where their vehicles were, ending in several people being transferred to the hospital for possible hypothermia. Just after 12:30 a.m., Police officers reported that most parking lots were clear with very little pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic around the airport was returning to normalcy. However, officers were still assisting some members of the public in locating their lost vehicles.
Samantha Zager, the deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told USA TODAY in a statement that the campaign “deployed 40 shuttle buses – double the normal allotment — but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays.”
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said the Trump campaign orchestrated the rally, and only 40 buses were available for the 25,000 to 30,000 people in attendance when only 10,000 were expected.
A Statement from Former VP Joe Biden
Former Vice President issued a statement prior to the Trump Rally that reads, “Nebraskans are hurting — and President Trump is failing them. The number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 60,000 and hospitalizations hit record highs last week. Hundreds of families are faced with an empty seat at the kitchen table after the loss of a parent or child. Jill and I pray for all those impacted by the virus, for those grieving the loss of a loved one, and for the safety of essential workers — including those in hospitals, nursing homes and meatpacking plants — putting their lives on the line.
Just days ago, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stunningly admitted that the Trump administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic. Not only has President Trump waved the white flag, but he is fighting to end health insurance protections for as many as 770,000 Nebraskans with pre-existing conditions as the pandemic worsens. My commitment to you is this: as your president, I won’t give up on Nebraska. I’ll finally get this virus under control and protect your health care. I’ll be a president who fights for all Nebraskans, not just the ones who vote for me. Over the next seven days, you have the power to end the chaos and division — but only if you vote.” Former Vice President Joe Biden