Trump returns to Pittsburgh with airport rally


Trump speaks at Pittsburgh International Airport. Stephen Caruso | Contributing Editor

By Alexa Bakalarski / News Editor


The last time Donald Trump spoke in Pittsburgh, he lauded his own triumphs and dissed his Republican competitors, while protesters marched outside Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.

But during his visit Saturday at the Pittsburgh International Airport, the presumptive GOP candidate met no opposition from anti-Trumpers and promised Pittsburgh a return to steel.

“I look at Pittsburgh, and I hate to tell you, but you’ve been wiped out, folks,” Trump said. “I love steel, and I love the miners. We’re going to put the miners back to work.”

Trump, in a camouflage ballcap, spoke to more than 1,500 people in the 88-degree heat for nearly an hour. The calm atmosphere of Saturday’s rally differed sharply from the tension of Trump’s April appearances, when conflict between protesters and supporters led to several arrests and a fistfight Downtown.

Jon Chermonitz, from the West Mifflin area, joined the crowd on Saturday for round two — he also attended Trump’s rally at Soldiers and Sailors in April.

“This is really peaceful and quiet, and the other one was pretty crazy,” Chermonitz said. “[Trump supporters] are a pretty peaceful group of people. The only people swearing are these [protesters].”

Though his speech was originally scheduled for 3 p.m., Trump’s plane — Trump Force One, as the media has dubbed it — landed in front of the rally about 3:30, as rally-goers chanted “We want Trump,” while “Get Ready for This,” by Dutch music group 2 Unlimited, played from the hangar sound system.

Lucy Shoupp, a Peters Township resident, was glad the event went uninterrupted. She said the behavior of protestors at other Trump rallies is “disturbing.”

“Everybody is allowed to protest, but that’s not protesting,” Shoupp said. “People [in San Jose, California] were burning an American flag and waving a Mexican one. It didn’t seem anti-Trump, it seemed anti-American.”

According to Shoupp, the people who protest Trump don’t “pay attention to him.”

“He’s a businessman, not a politician,” she said. “He speaks differently.”

Trump’s speeches have most recently provoked controversy for accusations that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the civil fraud lawsuits against Trump University, had a “conflict of interest” because of his “Mexican heritage.” The comment prompted criticisms from other Republicans, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, and last Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk — R-Illinois — became the first congressperson to revoke an endorsement of Trump.

Despite these and other criticisms from within his own party, Trump is looking beyond the existing GOP voter rolls.

“We’re getting millions and millions of additional people. People that the Republican party has never had before,” Trump said at a press conference Saturday morning. “I’ve had so many people tell me ‘I’ve never voted Republican in my life. I left the Democrats in order to register as a Republican, so I could vote for you.’”

Brian Lockwood of Jefferson County was one of the non-voters Trump claims to have brought back to the political process.

Even though he has voted Republican since Ronald Reagan ran for president, Lockwood said he originally wasn’t going to vote in this election because Republican and Democratic leaders “are high fiving in back rooms.”

“They are a two-headed monster,” Lockwood said. “I was going to wash my hands of voting.”

Trump changed his mind, Lockwood said, because “he’s the ultimate outsider.”

John LeDonne, an Uptown resident and member of Bikers for Trump, said he had previously voted for President Barack Obama but has been disappointed by Obama’s time in office. Trump offered a platform based on challenging Washington norms.

“Trump hopefully is going to do what Obama was supposed to,” LeDonne said. “I’ve always been on the side of change.”

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