People came from far and wide, sleeping on the ground and waiting in line for hours, if not days, all for the chance to hear former President Donald Trump speak in person at the Ford Wyoming Center on Saturday, his first-ever speaking appearance in the Cowboy State.
Loyalty for Trump was on fierce display Saturday, with nearly every attendee wearing a shirt, hat or cape endorsing him. The question of how much of the state agrees with the roughly 10,000 who attended the rally will be settled in the upcoming midterm primary and general elections.
In terms of what rally organizers had expected for turnout, up to 20,000, attendance at the free event fell a bit short.
Those who did show up, expressed fervent support for Trump and his band of loyalists who also spoke at the event, giving more than 20 standing ovations over the course of the afternoon.
“We love you,” one woman screamed out at Trump as he gave his address.
Slept On The Ground
Amie and Kash Richmond drove down from Powell, nearly four hours away, to see the event. Not only did the couple make the drive, but they also arrived at 7:30 a.m. Friday, a full 32.5 hours before Trump was scheduled to speak.
The Richmonds slept on the ground for the chance to see the former president who hasn’t yet officially declared he will run in 2024. They were some of the first in line Saturday morning.
“We love Trump and we love what he did for us,” Kash Richmond said, wearing a large Trump cowboy hat. “He’s an American hero, absolutely 100%.”
Despite the fact she endorsed Trump in 2016 and 2020 and voted with him more than 90% of the time, there was no support for U.S. Rep Liz Cheney expressed in any way on Saturday. That’s because Cheney has become one of the most vocal critics of Trump following his claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him and voted for his impeachment.
It was clear Trump was the primary reason for most attendees to come. Although the rally was a fundraiser for Cheney’s U.S. Congress opponent Harriet Hageman, only a few attendees wore attire promoting Hageman or told Cowboy State Daily they were at the rally to see her. Even fewer wore shirts criticizing her opponent U.S. Rep Liz Cheney.
One of the few who did was Riverton resident Tom Eustice, wearing a T-shirt referring to Cheney as a “swamp rat” with similar imagery.
“She basically stabbed Trump in the back,” he said.
Eustice said he had questions about who actually instigated the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“It could have been all set up by the Democrats for all I know,” he said.
He added he was frustrated with Cheney for taking up the role on the U.S. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, on which she holds a leadership position.
Frank And Unapologetic
Many of Trump’s supporters have said their steadfast loyalty to Trump comes from the former president’s willingness to speak in a frank, unapologetic nature. In situations where many politicians may look for compromises or mince words, Trump almost always does not, outraging his critics and inspiring his fans.
“Seeing his speeches makes you all riled up,” said Isaiah Cox, a South Dakota resident who traveled to the rally. “He’s got a backbone.”
For the Richmonds, Trump is still a candidate they see more electable than any other in 2024.
“If Trump is running for 2024, he’ll blow it out of the park,” Kash Richmond said, citing the vast amount of money Trump has in his war chest.
Similarly, San Diego resident Amy Lee said seeing Trump or someone he endorses becoming president is the only way the “Make America Great Again” movement can continue. A Vietnamese immigrant, Lee said many Americans don’t realize how good they’ve got it.
“We clearly know what communism is like,” she said. “We’re not about to lose this country to the communists.”
Lee said she sees a stark difference between the country now compared to when Trump was in office, criticizing President Joe Biden’s actions on energy, the border and foreign diplomacy. She regularly attends Trump rallies and said it is her goal to reach young people to prevent the next generation from being “brainwashed.”
Kash Richmond went further with this sentiment, calling the American people “asleep,” “naive” and “dumb.”
“We need to go back to our local politics,” he said. “We need to teach that in schools and make that a priority in our lives. It’s a little bit the country is the way it is because we let it happen.”
Fake Media Is The Virus
Lee and her husband and about a dozen other friends traveled to Wyoming to attend the rally together. Each wore a shirt proclaiming “Fake Media is the Virus” on the front. On the back of these shirts, each person had their own letter spelling out the message “Media is the Liar.”
“They know that there’s a cure for the virus and all the vitamins, Ivermectin and all that,” she said. “They don’t want to report it and it’s proven.
“They want to dictate how you should live your life.”
Neither the Centers For Disease Control or World Health Organization have recommended Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. It was Trump who oversaw the rollout of the vaccines approved for use today.
Riverton residents Ray Abodaca and Paul Cross wore oversized red and blue bow ties to the event.
“I want to be around people that have the same values that I do,” Abodaca said. “The people who have the same values, you can just feel it. When I was standing outside, I felt like a power. I feel an equal bond with each other”
Jonathan Riches, a Florida resident known for posing as different figures to give false interviews to the media and a prolific online troll, has been to 48 Trump rallies in his lifetime. He said his first Trump rally in February 2016 was a defining moment in his life.
“He knows how to electrify the crowd, he says the right things,” Riches said.
Following Trump’s speech, Oklahoma resident Melissa Cole excitedly filmed her fellow Protzmanians walking out of the arena.
Prozmanians are a group of people named after QAnon cult leader Michael Protzman. They believe Trump is using secret code in his speeches, tapping into Gematria, the practice of assigning a numerical value to a name, word, or phrase according to an alphanumeric cipher. A few their members wore red ties at the event to distinguish themselves.
“It’s God’s hidden language,” Cole said.