MISSOULA – The line for President Trump’s rally at the Missoula International Airport began forming at 3:30 a.m – probably around the same time protestors hiked up Mount Jumbo to add an “-IAR” to the existing “L” on the foothill overlooking town.
In the field where the Trump’s supporters wait, hours before Trump’s 6:30 p.m. rally, the 60-foot tall “LIAR” is not quite visible. Even if it was, the joyful crowd probably wouldn’t be fazed.
Sam Larsen, 21, was the first person in line, along with her husband Jordan Larsen, 28, and Derek Schwartz, 28, all from Missoula.
“I want to see Trump,” she said. “We missed out in Great Falls. We didn’t want to miss him here.”
Aside Trump’s visit to Great Falls in July, the president campaigned for Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, the state auditor, in Billings last month.
“Third time’s a charm,” said Jordan Larsen.
Rosendale faces U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who has represented Montana since 2006 who is one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators in the November election. Trump won Montana in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points.
Seven hours after the Larsens got in line, hundreds more red-hatted rally-goers spooled out behind them, adding to a celebratory mood.
Sany Dash, 47, stood before a table of merchandise praising Trump. She follows Trump to all his campaign stops.
“This is my 15th rally,” she said, adding that she donates 70 percent of all her profits to whatever candidate Trump is campaigning for, which amounts to at least $10,000 each stop. “I really like Trump.”
Next, she’s headed to Arizona, then Nevada, then Houston. Not all stops go well. In Mississippi, she was mistaken for a Democrat and felt her compatriots’ ire, an attitude she hasn’t faced in her liberal hometown of Manhattan, New York City.
“I’m not white,” she said. “If I was white, they’d have a problem with me.”
About 100 people deep, the Blazen Divaz from Coeur d’Alene were decked out in red boas and feathered headwear. The women are part of a precision dance team who are angling to perform in 2020 at Trump’s second inauguration, if things go as they hope.
“We’re all big fans of President Trump. We think he’s doing a great job,” said Rosemary Schadel. “I’m very fond of him and his policies. I really think he’ll make America great again.”
The scene on Mount Jumbo is surely different, but according to a statement given to the local Missoulian newspaper, the group that placed the giant letters is also enjoying the near-perfect fall day.
“It seems right to sit on a sunlit mountain in our beautiful community on a gorgeous fall day to express our disgust with and rejection of Trump silently and bask in the company of others who share our voice and concerns and who need to be heard,” said the group, which included Roseanne Davis, Maggie Williams and Betty Tschudi.
Up to 100 people have volunteered to take shifts by the letters, far from the raucous scene that will begin soon when Trump lands in Air Force One to rally his base.
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