Highland Countians were well-represented at Donald Trump’s rally in Wilmington on Thursday, and they weren’t disappointed by what they heard.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings and his wife, Taryn, attended the event at the Roberts Centre, and the mayor said later, “I was really impressed with him.” Hastings said, “The Donald Trump you see in soundbites is not the same Donald Trump in person. He has really become very presidential.”
Hastings was given VIP passes to the event, but tried to watch with the main crowd until an organizer insisted he and his wife join the VIP contingent. The mayor said he was impressed that after his remarks, Trump spent considerable time shaking hands with attendees around the perimeter of the stage before departing.
Paulette Donley, chair of the Highland County GOP, said the event was “electric.” She said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was effective warming up the crowd, and Trump “spoke very well.”
Trump “was on message,” said Donley, who attended with her husband, Dick. “He talked about job creation and so on. It was a good experience.”
Jim Grove of Hillsboro said he thinks Trump will live up to his motto to “Help make America great again.” He attended the Thursday rally with friends Randy Abbott of Hillsboro and Chris Toller of Lynchburg.
“I think he’ll get us off life support,” said Abbott, who added that he and several friends meet at Frisch’s each morning “to solve all the world’s problems.”
“America needs to be set on the right track,” he said, “and I think Trump will do that.”
Three friends are so intent on supporting Donald Trump for president that they showed up at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Roberts Centre for the noon Thursday rally. They were asked to leave by security, so they booked a hotel room and were second in line by about 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
“Our country has lost touch; we’re too politically correct and we’re losing our standing in the world,” said Kalani Ayres, of Phillipsburg, Ohio, as he and his friends Dustin Peters and Kenneth Kidd, both of Cincinnati, stood second in line around 7 a.m. Thursday.
Ayres, a US Army veteran, said US policies have become so soft that we’ve “lost our backbone” and he feels Trump will restore respect for America in the world — and instill a little fear in countries that don’t respect America anymore.
No protestors or anti-Trump sentiment were noticeable as the first 150 attendees were lined up between 7 and 8 a.m.
Sue Ann Fields of Piketon, Ohio was first in line at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. Not far behind were enthusiastic Wilmington Schools students Jenna Victor, Ashley Tissot, Samantha Achtermann, all 15, and Jared Tissot, 13. “We want to see Trump,” said Samantha, “We want to meet him!”
Carol Trimmer of Dublin, Ohio came with sons Jared and Justin. Justin, who is in a wheelchair, said he supports Trump and “it’s because of Obamacare that I’m in this wheelchair.”
US military veterans Dave Fyffe and Brian Fyffe, who are both in wheelchairs, said they came to show their support for Trump. “He will make us better,” said Dave, 71.
Madison Wilkins, 15, and Logan Schroer, 16, both of Germantown, came to the rally because, as Logan said, Trump “is not a politician. He says what he thinks; he’s not politically correct.”
Reach Tom Barr at 937-382-2574. Gary Abernathy contributed to this story.
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