“Flash mobs” popped up across the state Tuesday to drum up support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Bearing signs and banners, demonstrators gathered at 25 sites around the state for nearly two hours. About 10 of the flash mobs were in Metro Detroit.
“This may be the largest Trump event in Michigan other than the candidates themselves appearing here,” said Rosanne Ponkowski, president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition.
The rallies were held from communities on the state’s west side to Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties.
“It’s important that we get Trump elected,” said Matt Maddock, a founder of the Michigan Conservation Coalition. “Michigan is crucial to the campaign. The grassroots of Michigan are going to win this for Trump. We’re going to get Trump to the White House.”
A July 30-Aug. 1 Detroit News-WDIV-TV poll of 600 likely voters showed Democrat Hillary Clinton with a 9-percentage point lead over Trump.
Braving heat and roaring rush-hour traffic, about a dozen people hoisted signs reading messages such as “Trump (Hearts) America” and “Trump Secure Our Borders” near Telegraph and 12 Mile in Southfield.
In an area where voters typically favor Democratic candidates, site coordinator Bob Brim encouraged them with a message: “Be brave, be bold. Don’t be afraid to stand up for Trump.”
That meant facing more than one passing car shouting obscenities or making obscene gestures at the group that included teens and minorities.
Among them was Gene Yee of Bloomfield Township, who held up a Trump sign with Chinese characters. The New York businessman’s frank approach, he said, has appealed to many voters. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a novice be successful and get on this level. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Standing near him urging motorists to honk for Trump was Sheila Kay, an African-American voter from Southfield who said she’s breaking from her relatives to support the Republican candidate. She said she believes other minorities are doing the same.
“They’re beginning to see that the Democratic Party has misguided and lied to them all these years just to get their vote,” she said.
About 100 people flocked to the intersection of Ann Arbor and Haggerty in Plymouth with American flags and signs with messages such as “Our Country is Not for Sale.”
“So many people are upset with Hillary Clinton, so that’s why they’re supporting Donald Trump,” said William Hartmann, a co-chair for the Trump campaign in Wayne County.
Kyle Rose, 21, of Belleville was eager to join the throng with his brother and other supporters.
“We just want to be energized in a positive way,” he said.
Brandon Dillon, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said public polling suggests that minorities and others across the state and nation continue to support Clinton and Democrats while rejecting Trump’s positions and policies.
“Her message of continuing to build on the accomplishments of the Obama presidency and being stronger together is resonating with voters,” he said.
The flash mobs occurred on a day when Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened three offices: in Detroit, Warren and West Bloomfield Township. Her Michigan campaign now has 23 offices.
Clinton officials also have been organizing voter registration drives in the past week.
“Michiganders are rejecting Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and responding to Hillary Clinton’s message that we are stronger together,” Michigan Clinton campaign spokesman Mitchell Rivard said.
The Trump events came four days before the billionaire is scheduled to attend an 11 a.m. service Saturday at Bishop Wayne T. Jackson’s Detroit church, Great Faith Ministries International, and then sit for a one-on-one interview on the Impact Network.
It’s Trump second Detroit visit in a month and third to Michigan since the Republican National Convention last month in Cleveland. The stop will come two days before Democrats are set to gather for the annual Labor Day parade, which in recent years has attracted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump has in recent weeks been working to appeal directly to African-American voters, arguing their longstanding support for Democratic candidates has not substantially improved their lives.
But the New Yorker making that call while speaking to predominantly white audiences, such as his Aug. 19 stop near Lansing, has sparked criticism from pundits and others.