OCEAN CITY – On Wednesday, the circus came to Berlin: the Trump circus.
According to Fire Marshal officials, approximately 3,000 people crammed into Stephen Decatur High School’s gymnasium and cafeteria to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump, the real estate mogul turned GOP presidential frontrunner. Outside, the line of thousands who didn’t get in to the event stretched several football fields into the evening sky on Seahawk Road as protesters peacefully rallied from the neighboring property.
The Eastern Shore of Maryland has historically and almost collectively complained that it is often overlooked and ignored when it comes to politics and politicians. So, on a night when the self-proclaimed anti-politican came to town, just one night after his big primary win in his home state of New York, the most passionate of local supporters, haters and neutral spectacle seekers dropped everything and tried to get as close to Trump as they could.
Crowds started forming around SDHS early in the day as locals sold Trump merchandise and the police presence quickly grew to an impressive presence in hopes of keeping the peace.
When Trump did take the stage shortly after 7:30 p.m. to thunderous applause, he didn’t take long before talking about his big win in New York and criticizing his political opponents, “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary.”
“We are going to beat Crooked Hillary so badly it’s going to be something you watch and really enjoy,” said Trump.
Throughout his 45-minute speech, he shot from the hip with his almost trademark use of no script or teleprompter and played to the exuberant crowd like a virtuoso.
Chants of “build that wall”, praising Trump’s promise to build a wall along the US’s southwest border if he’s elected president, started well before he took the stage, and continued as he started to speak about one of his leading policy points: immigration.
As the “build that wall” chants intensified, Trump stopped talking, turned to the crowded gallery of teachers, and VIP’s, took in the moment with a playful smile and addressed the crowd once more.
“Okay, okay, we are gonna build the wall,” said Trump, “and who’s going to pay for it?”
The crowd, right on cue, shouted “Mexico” in a frenzied harmony.
Earlier in the evening, several students were escorted out of the rally dressed in Mexico soccer jerseys for foul language, and illegal immigration was one of his biggest talking points.
In addition, Trump’s biggest moments of the night from a crowd reaction standpoint had to do with his message of “making America great again”, including jobs, military, gun control and education.
“We are going to bring our jobs back, and we are going to save our school system,” said Trump. “We are going to end Common Core. And we are going to save our 2nd amendment rights.”
Trump’s speech careened through a vast range of topics at almost break-neck pace, switching almost in the same breath to poking fun of his Republican adversary Ted Cruz to diving into corporate inversion and his mission to reverse trade deficits.
Trump’s speech took a few false turns, however, as he seemingly forgot where he was in saying “we are going to bring jobs to Indiana” and “don’t you love that Tom Brady” in Baltimore Ravens country.
Yet, the crowd was there for Trump, and he soaked up that adoration, even from a smaller crowd than he is used to performing to.
“Don’t you just love a Trump rally,” quipped the GOP frontrunner. “No one has rallies like this anywhere.”
Ed Bulson and Nancy Taylor are passionate Trump supporters and were dressed in head-to-toe Trump regalia and denim. They made the three-hour drive from Reistertown, Md. and said it was well worth it because they got to see Trump up close and personal.
“He’s the best thing that’s ever come down the political pike and we think he’s going to be the only person that’s going to save the country,” said Taylor.
Both Taylor and Bulson have been long-time Democrats and have recently changed party affiliations in order to be able to support Trump in the primaries.
“We have to help him get to 1,237 delegates so the party has to give him the nomination,” said Bulson. “He’s the best chance we’ve got to make America great again.”
Jay Puhl owns a construction business in Baltimore. He took off work to come to the event because he respects Trump’s business prowess and respects his character as a man.
“I like that when he’s fallen down in his career, he’s gotten right back up again,” said Puhl. “I like that he’s not a politician and that he’s a businessman. He’ll run our country like a business and it will be great for everyone. I also like that he cares about all people, no matter how much money you have. He wants to take care of all of us.”
Leading up to the event, which was announced on Monday, there were concerns that Trump’s presence on the Eastern Shore could lead to problematic issues, but thanks to a massive police presence, which included snipers on the roof of the Harley Davidson building, the rally went smooth.
Trump’s parting words to the crowd was his “big ask” to the crowd, imploring them to go to the polls on Tuesday and to cast their vote for him to be the next president of the United States.
“You are going to look back and remember this night,” said Trump. “It’s going to be the most important vote you’ll ever make in your life.”