ELKO – Citing economic successes, President Donald Trump led a crowd of about 8,500 in Elko on Saturday to drum up support for Republican candidates ahead of the November election.
Trump called out the differences between the two parties and their goals for the nation at Elko Regional Airport as he was joined by candidates running for state and federal office.
“Their [Democrats] campaign is called ‘Resist,’” Trump said, as the audience went wild. “Ours is called “Make America great again.”
“What do you think of that: ‘Resist’?” Trump asked. The crowd booed in response.
Trump also said the campaign boiled down to the essentials, citing high employment stats, lower poverty rates and a reduction in people on food stamps.
“This election is also about prosperity,” Trump said.
He declared the Democrats’ surge in Nevada was weakening.
“I think that blue wave is being rapidly shattered,” he said as he stumped for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt. Both men are in tight contests with Democratic opponents.
Air Force One touched down with the president at approximately 11:08 a.m. in front of a cheering crowd. Supporters chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “USA, USA, USA” as he took the stage.
In support of Republican candidates running for state and federal office, Trump was joined on stage by Laxalt and by Heller, who followed Trump off Air Force One and introduced Trump to Elko.
“Welcome to gold country,” Heller told the president.
Earlier, residents and out-of-state visitors queued up in lines marked by yellow caution tape. The earliest visitor was reported to have been in line at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
National and regional media outlets were in Elko for the event, along with politicians running for office.
Candidate for governor Ryan Bundy greeted people in line at the rally.
“I’m a little surprised he comes to the little places,” Bundy said.
Local resident and rancher Angie Heguy, along with her husband Joe and father Scott Burns, wore baseball caps in support of Trump with “Deplorable” written across Angie and Joe’s.
“That’s our theme today,” Heguy said. “We are one big ‘deplorable’ family.”
The campaign rally began at 10 a.m. with a prayer from Assemblyman John Ellison of Elko.
“I’m proud to be an American,” he said, “and I’m proud to be a Republican and Christian.”
“We kneel for our God and raise for the flag,” Ellison said.
Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Michael Roberson led the Pledge of Allegiance. Attorney general candidate Wes Duncan spoke, followed by Laxalt.
The crowd responded with cheers when Laxalt stated Nevada was an independent western state and booed when he suggested the state could become California under his opponent, Democrat Steve Sisolak.
During a short break between speakers and the president’s arrival, the crowd pressed in closer to the stage, waving signs, taking cellphone pictures and videos, and anticipating Trump’s speech.
“I think it’s part of Elko’s history,” said Elko resident Sherrie Sims, who brought her daughter Kaylee.
Nathan Dailey and Amber Cooper of B.J. Bull Bakery shared their enthusiasm.
“It’s awesome. It’s historic,” Dailey said.
Cooper said she hoped Trump would “keep doing what he’s doing. He’s helped all the hard workers like us here in Elko.”
Fellow rally attendee Rob Sharlow chimed in, explaining what Trump’s visit meant to him.
“The rural community still matters,” he said. “We still have a voice. Even though it’s small, if we all come together, it’s a roar.”
The crowd indeed roared with cheers and boos in response to Trump’s “America first” agenda, jabs at Democrats and promises for a better country if Republicans remain in majority.
The president, against a backdrop of the old airport with the Ruby Mountains to his left, decried Democrats for pushing socialism, human trafficking and sanctuary cities. He spoke in favor of fighting opioid addiction, the formation of the Space Force, job creation, and cracking down on abusive trade practices.
“We are standing up for our values, and we are standing up for Nevada,” he said before acknowledging the state’s history of hardworking settlers. “These courageous Nevada patriots did not shed their blood, sweat and tears so that we could sit at home while others erase the legacy and destroy our proud American heritage.”
The president’s voice and the crowd’s cheers crescendoed as Trump wrapped up his nearly hour-long visit.
“We will not bend. We will not break. We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never back down,” he said. “We will never surrender, and we will always go on to victory because we are Americans … ”
The audience joined him in chorus to finish the sentence: “and our hearts bleed red, white and blue … . We will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America safe again, and we will make America great again.”
A smaller crowd of holdouts stayed to watch the president’s motorcade drive back to Air Force One parked on the Elko airport tarmac. His vehicle swooped in close enough to where those lining a metal railing could see the president’s wide grin and a thumbs up through the back seat window.
Moments later, Trump boarded the plane and Air Force One shot into the sky.
“Wow,” one woman said as the aircraft disappeared from view. “There goes our president. How special is this?!”