Sup­port­ers, oth­ers come out strong to see Trump in Illi­nois

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JOSEPH BUS­TOS jbus­tos@bnd.com

Many hours be­fore Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was sched­uled to ar­rive at South­ern Illi­nois Air­port out­side of Mur­phys­boro, peo­ple were lined up for a rally ahead of the Nov. 6 elec­tion wear­ing their “Make Amer­ica Great Again” hats, Trump T-shirts and “Bost for Con­gress” shirts.

There were chants of “Build the Wall,” “Lock her up,” and “USA” as peo­ple waited ahead of the pres­i­dent’s speech, which was sched­uled for 5 p.m., af­ter press time.

Trump on Satur­day flew into the South­ern Illi­nois Air­port in Mur­phys­boro to cam­paign with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, the South­ern Illi­nois Repub­li­can seek­ing re­elec­tion.

Trump’s aim was to try to en­er­gize vot­ers to get out to vote by Elec­tion Day.

“I tell you what, with this crowd, Mike Bost is go­ing to win big,” Trump said, call­ing the elec­tions “per­haps the most im­por­tant midterm elec­tions ever.”

The rally came on the same day as amass shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue, which left 11 peo­ple dead.

“We can’t let evil change our life and change our sched­ule,” Trump told pool re­porters in In­di­anapo­lis be­fore leav­ing for Illi­nois. “You go with a heavy heart, but you go. You don’t want to change your life. You can’t make them im­por­tant. These are bad peo­ple.”

Trump called the shoot­ing an “evil anti-Semitic at­tack.”

“The scourge of anti-Semitism can­not be al­lowed. It can­not be tol­er­ated,” Trump said. “We must stand with our Jewish broth­ers and sis­ters.”

A spokesman for Bost es­ti­mated at least 8,000 peo­ple turned up for the rally.

“It’s an amaz­ing thing to have the pres­i­dent,” Bost said. “When he shows up it’s sim­i­lar to a rock con­cert, but it has to have a whole lot of se­cu­rity.”

While warm­ing up the crowd, Bost spoke highly about the pres­i­dent.

“He’s a fighter, and he tells the truth and some­times the truth hurts,” Bost said. “He’s the first pres­i­dent ever to take a re­duc­tion in plane size. He isn’t do­ing it for money. He’s do­ing it for we the peo­ple.”

Trump praised his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tar­iffs and the re­turn of jobs to Gran­ite City Steel, which is in the 12th Dis­trict and nearly 100 miles from Mur­phys­boro.

“Hun­dreds of Illi­nois steel­work­ers and steel­work­ers all over the county are back on the job,” Trump said. “Af­ter years of re­build­ing other coun­tries, we are fi­nally re­build­ing our coun­try and we are do­ing it with Amer­i­can

steel and Amer­i­can pride.”

Bost took the stage again af­ter the pres­i­dent in­tro­duced him say­ing,

“Mike Bost pro­tects Illi­nois farm­ers, Illi­nois min­ers and Illi­nois steel­work­ers.” The con­gress­man thanked the pres­i­dent for his visit and urged vot­ers to make it out to the polls.A close elec­tionTrump men­tioned Bost’s chal­lenger Demo­cratic St. Clair County State’s At­tor­ney Bren­dan Kelly and at­tacked him as a lib­eral in­sider who would vote for HouseMi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House.

“Bren­dan Kelly is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and Max­ine Wa­ters and their job killing agenda,” Trump said. Wa­ters is a Demo­cratic con­gress­woman from Cal­i­for­nia.

The party of the sit­ting pres­i­dent his­tor­i­cally has lost ground in the House in midterm elec­tions. Early voter turnout has been higher than pre­vi­ous midterm elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to county clerks in St. Clair and Madi­son County.

The elec­tion in the Illi­nois 12th Dis­trict, listed as lean­ing Repub­li­can by the Cook Po­lit­i­cal Re­port, is ex­pected to be close on Nov. 6.

The race had pre­vi­ously been listed as a toss-up as sev­eral polls had Bost lead­ing by 1 per­cent­age point. A re­cent poll by the New York Times had Bost lead­ing by 9 points. The Times did not in­clude Green Party can­di­date Randy Aux­ier in the poll.

“(The) re­sponse we’re get­ting has been very good on the street, but we’re go­ing to run like we’re 10 points be­hind,” Bost said in an in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter the lat­est New York Times poll was re­leased. “The Green Party has to have some kind of ef­fect on that. You see the polls, but it still doesn’t stop the fact, I’ve been through a lot of these, and it’s a long 14 days.”

Cam­paigns for both

Kelly and Bost, as well as groups sup­port­ing the can­di­dates, have flooded tele­vi­sion chan­nels with ad­ver­tise­ments dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion sea­son.

Voices of at­ten­deesJim Zim­mer, 65, ofMur­phys­boro, who owns an avi­a­tion in­sur­ance com­pany, was first in line for the rally. He spent the night in his of­fice at the air­port to be near the front of the line to get in.

“I think this is very im­por­tant. I don’t care if you are a Demo­crat, Repub­li­can or In­de­pen­dent. It is about Trump, but it is about the of­fice of the pres­i­dent and be­ing re­spect­ful,” Zim­mer said. “I think it’s a great time for South­ern Illi­nois. I’m sure Don­ald Trump has never heard of Mur­phys­boro un­til to­day.”

Dena War­ren, of Spring­field, who worked for AT&T cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive be­fore get­ting laid off af­ter­more than 22 years, came to demon­strate ahead of the rally. She is part of Good Jobs Na­tion, a work­ers’ rights ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“My mes­sage is to bring jobs back to the United States,” War­ren said. “We’re not here to protest. We’re here to get ames­sage to him to quit giv­ing money to these big CEOs and big cor­po­ra­tions …

Quit giv­ing them all these dis­counts, all these tax cred­its, be­cause they’re just build­ing their pock­ets and tak­ing the jobs away.”

Linda King, 68, of Ava, is an ac­coun­tant at South­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity in Car­bon­dale. She said she came be­cause she sup­ports the pres­i­dent.

“I’m pro-life, he stands be­hind pro-life, I’m pro­gun and he’s be­hind that,” King said. “He wants us to be able to have our re­li­gion that we want and he wants to se­cure the borders. I am for all those.”

“I think it’s very great he would come to this small area in sup­port of Mr. Bost … He is some­one he re­spects, there­fore he’s here to sup­port Mike,” King added.Other po­lit­i­cal at­ten­deesA­mong those at­tend­ing the rally was Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Raun- er, who is run­ning for re­elec­tion and trails dou­ble dig­its in the polls to Demo­cratic nom­i­nee J.B. Pritzker. Rauner has to work to gain sup­port from the so­cial con­ser­va­tives in his party draw closer in the polls.

Ear­lier in the week Rauner said he hoped to speak to the pres­i­dent about sev­eral is­sues.

“I work with the pres­i­dent. It’s part of the job, work with Pres­i­dent Trump. (I) worked with Pres­i­dent Obama. I’m go­ing to thank the pres­i­dent. He has helped us tremen­dously get Med­ic­aid im­proved and men­tal health ser­vices. His ad­min­is­tra­tion is very help­ful,” Rauner said.

“And Elaine Chao, the sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion, is a good friend of mine, but she’s come through with some ma­jor grants, money to up­grade our trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture. I’m go­ing thank him for that. I’m go­ing to talk about how we can ... work to im­prove trade agree­ments and we’re also go­ing to talk about im­mi­gra­tion.”

Pritzker called Rauner’s pres­ence at the rally “a last-ditch photo op.”

“When Don­ald Trump tried to strip health­care from amil­lion Illi­noisans, Bruce Rauner said noth­ing. As Don­ald Trump’s tar­iffs have hurt farm­ers across Illi­nois, Bruce Rauner has said nearly noth­ing. And as Don­ald Trump in­cites ha­tred and di­vi­sion across our coun­try, Bruce Rauner says noth­ing far too of­ten,” Pritzker said in a pre­pared state­ment.

U.S. Rep. Rod­ney Davis, a Repub­li­can from Tay­lorville, made an unan­nounced visit and praised Trump’s ef­forts to im­prove un­em­ploy­ment and bring can­cer re­search­money to Illi­nois, as well as sign­ing an opi­oid treat­ment bill.

“We are on the front lines to make sure (Mi­nor­ity Leader) Nancy Pelosi never gets the speaker’s gavel again,” Davis told rally at­ten­dees.

Davis will also face a Demo­cratic chal­lenger, Betsy Dirk­sen Lon­dri­gan, in a tight con­gres­sional race Nov. 6 for the Illi­nois 13th Dis­trict.

Lon­dri­gan crit­i­cized Davis for mak­ing the sur­prise visit fol­low­ing the shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh.

“For some­one who talks a lot about ci­vil­ity in pol­i­tics, I’m ap­palled that Con­gress­man Davis chose to make a sur­prise ap­pear­ance at a cam­paign rally nearly 100 miles out­side our dis­trict, just hours af­ter one of the dead­li­est at­tacks on the Jewish com­mu­nity in US his­tory,” Lon­dri­gan said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Our na­tion is reel­ing from a tragedy, but in­stead of us­ing this day to re­flect and honor those we lost, my op­po­nent chose to cam­paign with other ca­reer politi­cians and re­peat his tired par­ti­san at­tacks.”

Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date for gover­nor Kash Jack­son also planned to be in at­ten­dance on Satur­day.

“I don’t sup­port the pres­i­dent based on my po­lit­i­cal pref­er­ences,” Jack­son said. “I do it based on the fact that it re­quires a re­la­tion­ship on a state and fed­eral level to ad­dress the is­sues.”

The visit to Mur­phys­boro marks Trump’s sec­ond visit to the Illi­nois 12th Dis­trict. Trump vis­ited Gran­ite City in July to cel­e­brate the how U.S.

Steel brought back 800 jobs to the lo­cal steelmill af­ter tar­iffs on for­eign steel went in place.

Bost has been loyal to Pres­i­dent Trump since he be­came the GOP party’s nom­i­nee in 2016. To hold onto the seat, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan have each head­lined fundrais­ers in the dis­trict for Bost. Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture Sonny Per­due also vis­ited the dis­trict for a town hall with farm­ers last Wed­nes­day.

DERIK HOLT­MANN dholt­mann@bnd.com

Con­gress­man Mike Bost ex­its the stage be­fore Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ar­rives at the Make Amer­ica Great Again rally in Mur­phys­boro.

AN­DREW HARNIK AP

Chil­dren in the au­di­ence lis­ten as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks at a rally at South­ern Illi­nois Air­port in Mur­phys­boro, Ill., Satur­day.

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