The Hampton Roads region greeted a well-known visitor on Friday, Sept. 25: President Donald J. Trump. He held a rally at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport that gathered thousands of supporters. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, roughly 3,000 supporters attended the event, which is above Virginia’s 250-person limit for gatherings.
The Dispatch also reported that “state and local health officials had urged the airport and private hangar to reschedule or limit attendance to the event … Health officials in Hampton Roads said Thursday that the rally presented a ‘severe’ health risk, and would violate the state’s rules around gathering.” The Trump campaign’s response to the health officials’ concerns, as stated by The Dispatch, “Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for Trump’s campaign, said in a statement Friday: ‘If people can riot in the streets, loot from small businesses, or, in the Virginia governor’s case, take a mask-less stroll along the beach, then they can peacefully gather under the First Amendment to hear the President of the United States address the American people.’”
A Virginia Wesleyan community member attended the rally. They stated that they found out about the event through Trump’s campaign website and since 2016, was “determined to go to one of his events no matter the distance.” They became interested in politics through taking political courses at the same time as the 2016 Election. Regarding their political views, “My views align strongly with conservative values and I love having a leader that is not ruled by the media, elites or a self-interest group. I truly believe Trump’s single highest priority, as it should be, is the American people.”
In describing the atmosphere of the event, they stated, “The atmosphere of the event was surreal. I’ve never felt more unity and amity towards a group of people I completely don’t know.” Additionally, they said that the Trump campaign was handing out masks and hand sanitizer to attendees. “I’d say 80+% kept their masks on throughout the entire night.” This individual was not nervous about attending the event regarding COVID-19. “I am in a particular percentile that typically handles this virus extremely well as far as cases we’ve seen thus far and I am mindful of those around me.”
By Connor Merk