Adulation & awe inside Bethpage Trump rally
A charged atmosphere greeted the nearly 10,000 people hoping to hear Republican candidate Donald Trump speak inside Grumman Studios in Bethpage April 5.
Whether there to show their support or simply to get a glimpse of the man who is a fixture in the nationwide — and worldwide — media, it was clear everyone inside the former hangar turned film production studio was ready for a show.
Moving towards the warehouse-like space, attendees were herded in from five separate shuttle stations set up throughout surrounding towns. Inside, Trump supporters and spectators huddled together, enveloped in a sea of red hats and shirts embossed with Trump’s now-infamous campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” There was an ominous feeling amidst the excitement as police in full riot-gear peered from the sidelines, automatic rifles clutched at their sides. Lines trailed out the door while audience members impatiently waited to pass through metal detectors manned by TSA agents.
Shouts of “Let us in!” resonated throughout the overflow room as massive traffic build up created a delay in security checks, the agitated shouting just barely audible over a soundtrack of Billy Joel and Elton John. Beyond security, the mass of people in the main hangar filled the venue to the very back, an open door acting as the room’s only ventilation.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who had just given birth five days before, as her father proudly boasted to the crowd, was first to speak. She praised her father being a “dealmaker and negotiator” while an introductory video depicted Trump standing for the American working class against a cabal of establishment politicians and political pundits, before the GOP outlier took the stage while the song “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” blared through the speakers.
The building reverberated with the cheers and stomps from the audience as an ocean of iPhone’s appeared to capture footage of the GOP disruptor. As Trump delivered his infamous rhetoric, the audience shouted, as if on cue, various chants back to the candidate, including shouts of “Mexico!”, “Lyin’ Ted!”, “Asshole!”, “Hang him by his skinny jeans!”, and “Trump! Trump! Trump!”.
At one point, seemingly stirred by Trump’s speech, a man in the back of the room unfolded a shirt he’d been carrying on his arm, holding it up for the surrounding crowd to see. Above a printed image of the Twin Towers burning were the words: “Everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.”
Trump thanked New Yorkers, and assured them he would win the election. As the crowd took the 45-minute trip back to Bethpage, there was no shortage of praise for the Queens-born billionaire. His audience left the rally feeling a little more bleary-eyed.
Update (4.20.2016): Donald Trump wins the New York State Primary by a 35% margin over John Kasich (25.1%), and an almost 46% margin over Ted Cruz (14.5%). Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders (42%) by a 16% margin, with 58% of the vote.