BOULDER - Donald Trump Jr. ventured into the liberal heart of Boulder and held a rally at the historic Montgomery House on Pearl Street Monday afternoon.
The Republican presidential nominee’s son entered the foyer to raucous applause, a sea of red trucker caps, American flags, “Trump/Pence 2016” signs and pins and a slew of supporters of all ages.
"It's an organic movement. And it's interesting that it's the brash billionaire from New York that's actually the guy that's the voice for the people,” Trump Jr. said. “But you know what? He's the only one with the soapbox big enough and the guts to actually take on this fight."
Even though Boulder is (deservedly) known as an extremely left-leaning city, the rally had no shortage of attendees.
“I was surprised to see the turnout,” Trump campaign volunteer Juan Caro said. “A lot of Republicans and conservatives came out to listen to Junior speak.”
Trump’s campaign staff weren’t the only people surprised by the attendance.
Rae Hodges, a self-identified socialist (who is still feeling the Bern), was buying a pack of cigarettes when the cashier explained why so many people had gathered across the street.
She ventured over to the rally out of sheer curiosity.
“I guess I just have never really seen a Trump supporter, and to find them in Boulder was very surprising,” Hodges said.
Hodges was among the legions of anti-Trump and/or pro-Clinton protesters holding signs outside of the Montgomery House.
The dissenters were led by a young woman holding a large cardboard sign that said “Shame on Trump” on one side and “I (heart) Muslims” on the other. Surrounding her were “Clinton/Kaine” signs and a Pride rainbow flag.
As Trump supporters filtered in and out of the rally, they were met with jeers from these protesters, and at times, shouting matches and heated yelling broke out on the sidewalk.
However, some people strayed away from the inflammatory shouting matches, and instead engaged in intellectual debate and discussion.
Productive conversation is what drew CU Senior and International Affairs Club Board Member Seth Rose to the rally.
Rose supports Clinton and saw the rally as an opportunity to debate and discuss with those who share the opposite viewpoint. The presidential debates provide supporters with concrete facts and policies for discussion, Rose said.
But in his experience, Trump supporters don’t discuss the party policies that give their cause legitimacy.
Instead, he said they choose to rely on “bullet-pointed rhetoric, bashing rhetoric, and hyper-defensive rhetoric, [and] I feel we can’t have an honest debate.”
Rose did find a Trump-supporting couple that didn’t fit this mold. He engaged in the evidence-based debate he came seeking and left with a greater appreciation for the opposition’s perspective.
Of all the rally-goers on all ends of the political spectrum, a Trump supporter by the name of Ioana Popescu arguably had the most interesting backstory, and the most compelling reason behind her candidate choice.
She fled communist Romania in 1985, risking her life and leaving her family behind in search of freedom in the United States, according to a pamphlet she handed out at the rally.
Now, more than thirty years later, she’s a volunteer with the Boulder County Republicans office in Longmont.
She chose the Republican party because, in her eyes, freedom of speech in the U.S. is quickly dwindling, as is the idea of individualism.
Growing up in Romania, she saw parents lie to their kids to keep them safe from saying the wrong things in school and ending up in prison. She sees this trend starting to emerge in our country.
“I’m seeing … parents now with all the political correctness. God forbid you said … you don’t think Climate Change is the biggest problem in the world,” Popescu said. “God forbid you have a problem with the way they are trying to intimidate people and call them racist when not everybody agrees on what racism is.”
This push toward implicit censorship is the fault of liberals like President Obama, in her opinion, and Clinton would continue the scary trend.
She believes Trump will push America back towards the ideals that drew her here in the first place.
All in all, it was an eye-opening event with a whole wealth of perspectives, shouting matches and intellectual exchanges. Whether anyone changed their political leanings after the event is doubtful, but who knows? Crazier things have happened.
Copyright 2016 KUSA