President Donald Trump holds campaign rally in Grand Rapids, the first following the Mueller report


Madalyn Buursma

The Van Andel Arena was filled to capacity for the Trump rally.

Outside the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, as “We are the Champions” played on the loudspeaker, protestors yelled — “hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” — and supporters shouted back. A man walked past holding ten MAGA hats for sale. Street vendors were selling Donald Trump dolls and pins. Protestors held signs saying things like “yeet the president,” or simply “read.”

On Thursday, March 28, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, the first since the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The controversial investigation, which resulted in the still-confidential Mueller report, was to see if President Trump had colluded with the Russians to get elected, and if he obstructed justice during the investigation. After reading the report, President Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, reported to Congress there was no evidence President Trump colluded, and made no conclusion on whether or not the president obstructed justice.

At the rally, President Trump campaigned on immigration, manufacturing jobs and health care. He also announced plans for a $300 million funding for Great Lakes Restoration.

But the focus was on the Mueller report.

Madalyn Buursma

“Thank you very much Grand Rapids, it’s great to be back,” he started his speech, and then, after briefly mentioning the manufacturing jobs and the defeated ISIS caliphate, jumped straight into the Mueller report.

“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” he said, promoting loud cheers from the crowd.

“No collusion, no obstruction,” he said, a chant that Laura Cox, Michigan Republican Party chair, had led the crowd in earlier that evening.

Jobs was another big campaign point. Giant red signs saying “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” were placed throughout the room, and volunteers passed out smaller signs with the same phrase for the crowd to hold.

Madalyn Buursma

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., warmed up the crowd before his father arrived. A jab he made at Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, claiming that up until three weeks ago she “didn’t know the three branches of government,” prompted the crowd to chant “AOC sucks! AOC sucks!”

Congressman and Calvin alumnus Bill Huizenga was also at the event.

When asked about his support of President Trump, Congressman Huizenga told Chimes of a conversation he had with a prominent Democrat, who asked him to give a positive aspect of the President.

“I said I’ll give you three. I’ll start with three,” Huizenga said: the Supreme Court, his pro-life agenda, and what he’s done for the economy. Huizenga said he thinks President Trump has restored the Supreme Court to its proper focus, and has “probably been one of the most pro-life policy presidents we’ve seen in the modern era, and that has been very important.”

On economy, Huizenga said, “we have two and a half percent unemployment in Ottawa county. Wages are rising. Opportunity is going up. The unemployment rate for African-Americans and Hispanics are at historic lows. We have really seen a resurgence economically.”

Madalyn Buursma

A couple of Calvin students also attended the rally, including senior Zac DeVries, who went with some of his friends. They met up between 3 and 4 p.m. for the rally, which officially started at 7 p.m., and were some of the last few let into the venue. The line before the event snaked through multiple streets downtown, and the Van Andel Arena, which has a 12,000 plus capacity, according to its website, was completely full.

“Seeing that type of support and turnout in West Michigan for our president was amazing,” DeVries said. He said it was a privilege to have President Trump return to Grand Rapids, and it was fun to be a part of “the excitement and energy around the arena.”

“I went to the rally because of my support for what President Trump has been able to accomplish in office,” DeVries said. “As a Republican, I feel it is important to support our conservative leaders whenever possible.”

DeVries said he has seen one other sitting president in person: President George W. Bush, when he came and campaigned in Grand Rapids for re-election.

Madalyn Buursma

Though DeVries “was not full on board,” with Trump in 2016, he plans to fully support him during his re-election campaign. DeVries said he likes President Trump’s efforts to cut both individual and corporate taxes, and his efforts to decrease regulation in order to create a more competitive business environment, which is one of the most important issues to him.

“I believe President Trump has done a better job of that than anyone since Ronald Reagan,” DeVries said.

During the rally speech, DeVries enjoyed hearing President Trump talk about the Mueller report, “where he called out everyone who continually tried to attack him and his supposed ties to Russia,” as well as hearing him talk about manufacturing jobs.

Madalyn Buursma

In the last two minutes of his speech, President Trump said, “I am fighting for you, and your jobs, and your life, and your community, with everything that I have, and I will never ever stop, and we are winning so big. … We are going to stand for justice, for safety, for sovereignty, and for the sacred rights given to us by the hand of almighty God.”

He finished his almost hour and half speech with a familiar rallying cry: “We will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America safe again, and we will make America great again,” with the crowd shouting “make America great again” along with him.

After taking a few minutes to wave goodbye to the cheering crowd, he left to the sound of the Rolling Stones song he’s been known to play after most speeches, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”