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Trump thrills southern Illinois crowd

  • President Donald Trump addresses thousands of supporters at Southern Illinois Airport on Saturday.

    President Donald Trump addresses thousands of supporters at Southern Illinois Airport on Saturday.
    Geoff Ritter photo

  • President Trump smiles as U.S. Rep. Mike Bost urges voters to keep the House in Republican hands.

    President Trump smiles as U.S. Rep. Mike Bost urges voters to keep the House in Republican hands.
    Geoff Ritter photo

  • The crowd at Southern Illinois Airport is fired up ahead of President Trump's visit Saturday afternoon.

    The crowd at Southern Illinois Airport is fired up ahead of President Trump's visit Saturday afternoon.
    Geoff Ritter photo

  • Eight-year-old Brooklynn Brandon from Herrin waits with her family for the rally to begin.

    Eight-year-old Brooklynn Brandon from Herrin waits with her family for the rally to begin.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Dan Montogmery of Benton bows his head during the invocation, as the rally was just getting underway. Standing next to him is Debbie Nall, who came to the rally from Advance, Missouri.

    Dan Montogmery of Benton bows his head during the invocation, as the rally was just getting underway. Standing next to him is Debbie Nall, who came to the rally from Advance, Missouri.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Eddie Edwards, left, of Johnstone City and Bruce McMurray of Valier got to the rally early, and managed to find seats, as they waited for the arrival of the President.

    Eddie Edwards, left, of Johnstone City and Bruce McMurray of Valier got to the rally early, and managed to find seats, as they waited for the arrival of the President.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Calling herself "Lady Liberty for Trump,"Toni Eaton of Champaign came to the Murphysboro rally. She's been portraying Lady Liberty at Trump rallies since 2016 and just started her own Facebook page.

    Calling herself "Lady Liberty for Trump,"Toni Eaton of Champaign came to the Murphysboro rally. She's been portraying Lady Liberty at Trump rallies since 2016 and just started her own Facebook page.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Anna Cavitt, left and Gail Van Ormer, both of Marion, have been friends since grade school. Another thing they have in common is an appreciation for President Trump, and they came to the rally together on Saturday.

    Anna Cavitt, left and Gail Van Ormer, both of Marion, have been friends since grade school. Another thing they have in common is an appreciation for President Trump, and they came to the rally together on Saturday.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Renee Trappe photo The seven Jackson children of Pinckneyville - from left, Ethan, Vivia, Rayella, Asher, Zachari, Ariya and Joziah - await the arrival of President Trump on Saturday.

    Renee Trappe photo The seven Jackson children of Pinckneyville - from left, Ethan, Vivia, Rayella, Asher, Zachari, Ariya and Joziah - await the arrival of President Trump on Saturday.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Protestors outside the airport chant "No KKK!" and hold "Stand with immigrants and refugees" signs.

    Protestors outside the airport chant "No KKK!" and hold "Stand with immigrants and refugees" signs.
    Kristin Moore photo

  • Merchandise for sale outside became rally banners inside Saturday's rally at the Southern Illinois Airport.

    Merchandise for sale outside became rally banners inside Saturday's rally at the Southern Illinois Airport.
    Geoff Ritter photo

  • A cell phone user captures the scene during President Trump's rally Saturday at the Southern Illinois Airport.

    A cell phone user captures the scene during President Trump's rally Saturday at the Southern Illinois Airport.
    Geoff Ritter photo

  • Twelve-year-old Magan Yandell of Mt. Vernon claps in excitement for her first political event. She also knows all the words to "God Bless the USA."

    Twelve-year-old Magan Yandell of Mt. Vernon claps in excitement for her first political event. She also knows all the words to "God Bless the USA."
    Kristin Moore photo

 
By Holly Kee
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 10/29/2018 4:33 PM

MURPHYSBORO -- For those crowded into Hangar 6 at the Southern Illinois Airport on Saturday, and for the thousands more just outside the hangar, President Donald Trump did not disappoint.

At first, there was concern he might not come. Trump said he considered canceling his southern Illinois trip and his earlier stop at the FFA conference in Indianapolis because of the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but ultimately decided "we can't make these sick, demented, evil people important."

"The hearts of all Americans are filled with grief. It's horrible," he told the boisterous crowd, which got subdued as he spoke.

"This anti-Semitic attack … cannot be tolerated. We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. This was an assault on all of us," he said, "an assault on humanity."

To huge cheers from the sea of red hats and red shirts, Trump said for crimes like the synagogue massacre, "We have to bring back the death penalty." Pennsylvania and the federal government have the death penalty; Illinois does not.

Trump's visit was primarily to boost the re-election campaign of 12th district congressman Mike Bost of Murphysboro, who is in a tight race with Democrat Brendan Kelly, the St. Clair County State's Attorney, a week before the November midterms.

"Mike fights every day for the people of Illinois," Trump said, standing beside Bost at the podium. "This guy cares. That's why I'm here."

"He voted to cut your taxes, reduce your regulations, protect your Medicaid, protect your pre-existing conditions. Mike Bost defends Illinois farmers, Illinois miners, Illinois steel workers."

Trump told the crowd that Kelly is "weak on crime. He's for open borders."

In multiple venues and statements, Kelly has said he agrees "to some point" with the Trump's call to strengthen the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly to help stem the flow of heroin into the United States.

Trump also said that Illinois' economy has improved. He mentioned coal briefly, but focused more on steel.

"Hundreds of Illinois steelworkers are back on the job," Trump said. "Your (Illinois') steel industry was dead as a doornail but now it's doing great. With Mike Bost at my side we celebrated the reopening of two blast furnaces in Granite City."

The President also briefly brought Illinois congressmen Randy Hultgren and Rodney Davis onstage, but made no mention of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who, for a time at least, was spotted in the crowd seated behind the dais, wearing a "Back The Blue" hat and a vest covered in decals honoring law enforcement and the military.

Prior to Trump's arrival, state Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) was onstage as well as state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo). No one mentioned Rauner.

It is unclear whether Trump knew Rauner was there, or if he was deliberately snubbing him.

But Trump's focus Saturday was clearly on keeping the U.S. House in Republican hands. He promised another 10 percent tax cut for the middle class if the GOP can hold the House, and said the choice this November is between "resistance and results."

"This election is about borders and about jobs," he added. "This is the greatest political movement in the history of our country."

Bost told the crowd, "If you want our President to continue to succeed, you cannot allow Nancy Pelosi to retake the House."

The President gave the enthusiastic crowd a chance to perform. Waving signs that said "Drain the Swamp," "Build the Wall," "Make America Great Again," "Jobs vs. Mobs" and "Women for Trump," a single mention of Hillary Clinton drew chants of "Lock her up!" Frequent mentions of Pelosi drew loud boos. He threw in a reference to "Pocahontas", his derisive name for Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying she doesn't have Native American blood (a DNA test showed she does have some Native American ancestry.)

But the Pittsburgh massacre seemed to take some of the vitriol out of the President's usual attacks on his regular targets. There was, for instance, no attack on the "Fake" news media.

"If you don't mind, I'm going to tone it down," the President said early in his remarks. "Is that OK?"

"No!" the crowd roared in response.

Trump got the biggest cheers when he said he was sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to turn back the caravan of Central American migrants marching north.

"I'm sending the military to meet the caravan," he said to a thunderous ovation. But he added that those migrants would be welcome in the U.S. as long as they come in legally.

On the floor in the hangar, Carl Renshaw of Carterville said he strongly agrees with Trump's immigration policies.

"In any other country if 10,000 immigrants walked in they'd call it an invasion," Renshaw said. "Here, we call it undocumented." Those people, he added, are a drain on our resources.

People at the rally seemed buoyed, even as they left after a long day.

Anna Cavitt, of Marion, said she knew she was for Trump in 2016, when Ben Carson dropped out of the Republican field.

"I wanted some new blood," she said. "I wanted someone not political, and they couldn't buy him (Trump)".

Eddie Edwards, of Johnston City, said he had been hoping Trump would run even before he announced his candidacy. "We needed a businessman instead of a politician," he said. Trump's promise to build a wall to keep out migrants and his pledge to get the economy moving again, convinced Edwards he was right. "I like the results," he said.

Trump mentioned that, "We don't see too many protesters anymore" at his rallies. Some protesters were outside the hangar.

A video playing on the two jumbo screens outside the hangar told people if they spied anyone not supporting Trump in the crowd, they were instructed to surround that person, hold up their placards and chant, "Trump Trump Trump" until that person could be removed.

• Group editor Renee Trappe contributed to this report.