MOSINEE, Wis. — I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much excitement in my entire life. Thousands of people cattle-chuted their way through the endless maze of rent-a-fence. Men and women, young and old, sporting all manner of Americana attire and MAGA paraphernalia, lined up in the heart of the 2020 battleground to show their love for the greatest country on Earth and catch a glimpse of their president, Donald Trump.
For many of these Trump rally attendees, flyover folks from the rural Midwest, this was the first time they’d ever seen the president — any president. For hours, many waited in line outside the security checkpoint, then for several more hours, they stood in the corral outside the Central Wisconsin Aviation hangar, where the leader of the free world would eventually speak.
Trump hosting a “Great American Comeback” event in this small paper-mill town of only 4,000 people was no accident. He held a rally in the same town in 2018. Political winds have shifted in Marathon County, where Mosinee is situated, over the past decade. The county, which went for Barack Obama in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote to John McCain’s 45 percent, flipped red just four years later. Then in 2016, Trump won with a handsome 56 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 38 percent.
Mosinee also witnessed recent congressional upsets, such as former Republican Rep. Sean Duffy succeeding longtime incumbent Democratic Rep. Dave Obey in 2010 as the first Republican to be elected to the 7th Congressional District in more than 40 years. That GOP enthusiasm radiated Thursday.
“I’m excited to vote for President Trump. I’m excited that he’s coming to central Wisconsin,” Scott Soik, who is running for state assembly in Wisconsin’s 71st Congressional District, told The Federalist. “We work hard here in central Wisconsin. We understand what it means to go out and work hard every day, and that’s what this president represents.”
“We’re all excited,” Soik added. “I mean, look at the crowd here!”
Once in a Lifetime
As Secret Service and presidential aides scurried around on the tarmac and finished arranging equipment for the president’s arrival, curious attendees analyzed their every move, speculating about where exactly Trump might be at this moment, and what that officer might be doing with that bag, and did you know the doors of the presidential state car really are six inches thick? The sleek black vehicle parked in position near the fence and people gathered instantly, phones in hand, just to take pictures of the empty car.
“Hey, that’s the president’s car,” I heard a father eagerly tell his young son.
The sun began to set, and the crisp Wisconsin air nudged couples a little closer together as shivers set in, a reminder of summer’s end and of how long we’d been outside. Every few minutes, with each loud noise or distant light in the sky, all heads turned toward the runway as the crowd grew antsy with anticipation. False alarm, it was just a commercial jet.
“I don’t think he’s riding Delta!” an older man joked, and his buddies chuckled.
“I want to go inside!” a child whined nearby.
“Have you ever seen a president before?” his father replied.
“No,” was all the boy said.
“Neither have I,” his dad answered. He’d waited his whole life for this moment. “So let’s just tough it out for a few minutes.”
The few minutes felt like an eternity. Smoke wafted through the dairy air, carrying the scent of Char-Broiled burgers and cheese curds — but unfortunately, no warmth. Music was still ringing out over the loudspeakers, an endless playlist since earlier in the day that sounded like it could be Trump’s personal Spotify on shuffle, featuring everything from Billy Joel and Queen to some strange operatic tune.
Then finally, as if out of nowhere, Air Force One ushered in the president. Cheers erupted, and it seemed every single phone was out and in position to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moment.
“A very big hello, Wisconsin. We’ve been very good together,” Trump announced. “Forty-seven days from now, we’re going to win Wisconsin, and we’re going to win four more years in the White House.”
Gearing Up for Victory
Despite the polls, which proved hinky in 2016 and currently show Biden leading Trump 6.7 points in Wisconsin, many Midwest voters agree with Trump and are convinced he will win “in a landslide.”
“Oh, I know he’s going to win it,” Carla Marchant from Wittenberg, Wisconsin, said with a big smile.
“Just look around, and you’ll see all the support,” Julio de Lima Silva told The Federalist. De Lima Silva, an immigrant from Brazil, didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 — because he wasn’t a citizen yet. Now that he’s a naturalized American, he’s excited to cast his vote for Trump, who de Lima Silva said “is doing a fantastic job” with immigration.
“If you watch the mainstream media, and if you don’t do your homework, you don’t take a look at different outlets of information, you would probably think that he’s losing the polls, but c’mon. You can’t lose when we saw the whole thing that happened in 2016,” de Lima Silva said.
Another immigrant, Maria Kuhlka from Spain, said she will do her part to make sure Trump is re-elected because the future of the nation is at stake. “If we allow the Democrats to go ahead with riots, this is the end of our country. I was born in a socialist country, and I know what it is for a fact. I lived it,” Kuhlka said. “I didn’t come to this country to go [through it] again.”
Other rally attendees have had front-row seats to the riots. Patricia and Jeanne Cody traveled all the way from Portland, Oregon, to be in Mosinee and said they would be afraid to attend a rally where they’re from.
“We own a business, and it’s been vandalized three times — it’s been tagged with Black Lives Matter stuff. We’ve been shut down because of COVID. It’s embarrassing to tell people where we’re from,” Jeanne told The Federalist. The duo said they’re very optimistic that Trump will win the election, however, adding that he’s the kind of leader America needs to lead it through the pandemic’s economic recovery.
One attendee after the next echoed similar sentiments. When asked what they consider to be the most important issue in 2020, voters didn’t reply with typical red-meat conservative talking points, such as abortion or the Second Amendment. They used big-picture words like “freedom,” “safety,” “law and order,” and “the future of the country” — big concerns on the minds of everyday citizens who truly believe America is great and want to keep it that way.
Speaking Their Language
Watching Trump at one of his rallies rounds out the profile of the enigma in the Oval and solves any remaining mysteries about how a reality TV star with little decorum became the commander in chief.
When Trump uses MAGA verbiage or tells unpresidential jokes, he isn’t “playing to his base.” He’s just talking to them in their language. When Trump jokes about the Wisconsin weather and how many TVs are on Air Force One — “I said, ‘How about giving me a coat?’ They have everything on Air Force One, that’s the great thing, got more televisions than any plane in history. They’ve got televisions in closets, on floors, on ceilings” — the people laugh and joke along because those are just the sorts of comments they would make around the dinner table about the presidential plane.
His sense of humor is remarkable, not only for his comedic timing but for his understanding of his audience. From saying of Nancy Pelosi’s now-famous hairstylist, “She can do my hair anytime,” to quipping, “Biden doesn’t know he’s alive,” Trump’s one-liners land perfectly because they resonate.
When Trump says, “Joe Biden is a weak person. He’s always been a weak person, and that was in prime time, and prime time was 25 years ago,” the crowd buzzes with affirmative chatter. “He can’t get out of his basement,” a young man next to me joked to his friend, seemingly pleased that the president feels the same way he does.
“I made one mistake. I should have said, ‘We will not build a wall!’ Then they would have insisted that we build it. I could have saved two years of litigation,” the president declared. “‘We will not build a wall under any circumstances,’” Trump continued, imitating himself. “Then Pelosi would say, ‘We demand that you build a wall!’ These people are terrible. Crazy Nancy! Crazy as a bed bug.” Trump’s is a risky schtick, but its reward is the White House.
Many hard-working Americans distrust the media. They hate bureaucracy. They’re skeptical of politicians’ empty platitudes that will smoke their pocketbooks. Not only does Trump discard these things, he actively opposes them, and his supporters sense it in their gut.
“Never forget, they are coming after me because I am fighting for you,” Trump said, as he has before. Unlike pontificating career politicians pandering to the radical left, Trump doesn’t talk at his supporters. He talks to them.
Rallies like this one won’t happen again. Everything from getting your temperature checked before walking through the metal detectors to the raw electoral energy in the air, revved up by literal fires across the country, this “Great American Comeback” was a product of this truly unique political moment. Whether Trump wins or loses in 2020, this man and this movement absolutely will not be replicated.
“In conclusion — and I hate concluding with you because I like you,” Trump said with that same jocular flavor. “I don’t know why the hell I like Wisconsin, but for some reason!”
Apparently Wisconsin likes Trump for some reason, too. As I listened to chants of “four more years” rising up from the crowd, that reason was abundantly clear.