Notre Dame students travel to Trump rally in Elkhart
On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, thanks in part to a 19-percentage point victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Indiana. Indiana is also the home of his running mate and now-vice president, Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana.
On Thursday, Trump and Pence returned to to Indiana to kick off midterm campaigning in the state, with each man delivering a speech at a rally held at North Side Middle School in Elkhart.
While Trump discussed his victory in Indiana throughout his speech, over the course of the rally he also spoke about some of the state’s unique institutions.
“It’s the state that gave us Notre Dame football,” he said.
Trump and Pence are no strangers to the University, having both spoke in the region since the 2016 campaign for the White House.
In May 2016, Trump held a campaign rally at the Century Center in South Bend in the lead up to that year’s Indiana presidential primary, while Pence delivered the University’s 2017 commencement address.
Pence spoke prior to Trump, giving an overview of the president’s accomplishments to date. Pence said that the president’s work on the economy has benefited not only the entire country, but also Elkhart specifically.
“President Trump’s leadership has been making a difference here in Indiana and all across the country everyday,” Pence said. “Since Indiana voted to send him to the White House, businesses created more than 3.1 million jobs, including 33,000 new jobs here in the Hoosier state alone. … In fact, there has been 8,000 new good-paying manufacturing jobs just here in Elkhart, Indiana.
“I say with absolute confidence, jobs are coming back … and under President Trump, America is coming back,” Pence said.
While Pence and Trump both spoke on the administration’s political accomplishments, they also took time to address this November’s upcoming midterm elections. Trump said that his supporters must fight the urge to get “complacent.”
“[Democrats] fight for all of the things that we don’t stand for, and we are going to have a great victory in ‘18, you watch,” Trump said. “History shows that when you win the presidency, three years later … 90 percent of the time, the party that wins the presidency loses on the midterms. And the reason is, I guess, they get a little bit complacent. We’re not getting complacent.”
President Trump also discussed the May 8 Indiana primary, endorsing Republican senate candidate Mike Braun. Braun is challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly in Indiana’s senate election this November.
“We need Mike Braun in the Senate,” Trump said. “Now if Joe Donnelly — Sleepin’ Joe — and the Democrats get back into power, remember what I said, they will raise your taxes. … They will destroy your jobs, and they are going to knock the hell out of your borders.”
Trump noted that while the gymnasium can host around 7,000 guests, there were still crowds outside of the venue, unable to get a spot inside.
“I don’t know if you see what’s going on outside, but you have a lot of people outside that want to get in,” Trump said. “But they’re not getting in, because this place is packed.”
Notre Dame students were among attendees at the rally and at a nearby counter-protest.
Sophomore Indy Talken was one of the attendees who was unable to get a seat to watch Trump speak.
Talken traveled to the rally with a group of friends. The students had reserved tickets online and arrived at the time they were told would guarantee them seating. However, when they went to take a shuttle to the rally, they were turned away.
“The people on the bus told us ‘Don’t even bother going, there’s 20,000 people waiting outside just to get in. The venue is packed already, you don’t stand a chance,’ which was a little disappointing because we had reserved tickets online beforehand,” she said. “But we understand that’s how these kinds of things go.”
Talken said she and her friends had hoped to attend the rally in order to learn more about contemporary political issues.
“We were hoping to see him talk and listen to the way he presented issues because it’s important to be open-minded politically,” she said. “Being open to discussion is the only way to make progress. And we wanted first-hand experience.”
Senior Liam Maher participated in a counter-rally in Elkhart. He said the protest highlighted a wide array of issues.
“It was just a really diverse group on the counter protest side,” he said. “We had people including myself representing LGBTQIA populations, we had African American populations, we had Latinx populations, we had Moms Against Gun Violence, just a lot of people coming together to give voice to a lot of issues.”
Maher said he found it interesting to see the interactions between people from both sides of the political spectrum.
“It was very enlightening to see the other side,” he said. “I’m glad that I went. I haven’t really been super active in going to a lot of political rallies and stuff unfortunately because I’ve just been so busy throughout the year but I was happy that I got to make it out to this one.”