Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally at Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Sterling Heights Sunday evening. Robin Buckson

Sterling Heights— Feeling the momentum swinging their way, supporters of Donald Trump packed into the Freedom Hill outdoor amphitheater for a Sunday evening rally with the Republican presidential candidate and rocker Ted Nugent.

Trump was in town about 37 hours before the polls open Tuesday morning for an election that is shaping up to be the closest fought contest in Michigan in a generation.

Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are in a fevered battle for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. Trump’s rally in Sterling Heights follows a day of campaigning by former President Bill Clinton, who visited Flint, Lansing and Metro Detroit for wife.

David Cross, a 47-year-old mechanic from Algonac, said he has been on board with Trump’s White House candidacy since Trump descended an escalator at his Trump Tower in New York.

“When he came down and said, ‘I want to make America great again,’ I bought it because I think it was truthful,” Cross said. “He does want to make things better and drain the swamp in Washington and all of the corrupt crap that they’re doing.”

The crowd at Freedom Hill was filled with potential voters wearing Trump-themed clothing and the red “Make America Great Again” hats that have symbolized the New York real estate mogul’s outsider appeal.

Sarah Beebe, 29, said she believes more younger women like her will side with Trump than pollsters have found through surveying likely voters.

“I don’t vote with my lady parts, I vote with my brain,” said Beebe, an emergency medical technician from Port Huron. “I feel like Trump will win the silent majority, especially with women because he has daughters, he’s married, he does respect women and I believe he will be a champion for all of us.”

The stadium’s covered 4,400 seats were filled before 5 p.m. Trump supporters started to take seats in the lawn, which has an official capacity of 3,700.

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Trump spotted five boys at the rally wearing T-shirts with letters spelling “TRUMP” and invited them on stage.

Michael, Matthew and Evan Sakowski, and Dylan and Bryce King, ranging in age from eight to 12, joined Trump on stage for photos in the middle of his speech.

Sean Williams, an African-American man from Sterling Heights, drew numerous rounds of cheers from the mostly white crowd as he stood on stadium seats and displayed a handmade “Blacks For Trump” sign.

During his speech, Trump pointed to Williams.

“I love that sign: Blacks for Trump,” Trump told Williams from the stage. “Thank you. It’s very cool.”

After the rally, Williams said Trump’s commentary about how Democratic politicians treat black voters has appealed to him.

“I know he’s trying to help my people and the Democratic Party has turned us into modern slaves,” Williams said after the rally.

The New York businessman’s campaign has centered his efforts to win Michigan on wooing blue collar voters from Macomb County and other pockets of southeast Michigan, some of whom vote Democratic or belong to labor unions.

Democrats have tried to counter Trump’s message railing against international trade agreements and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Michigan over the past several decades.

Earlier Sunday, Democratic U. S. Rep. Sandy Levin of Royal Oak and state Rep. Henry Yanez of Sterling Heights sought to motivate campaign workers for Clinton in Sterling Heights by attacking Trump as too extreme and dishonest for Macomb County.

“The people of this county are better than the sexism of Donald Trump and better than the racism of Donald Trump,” Levin told 20 volunteers at a local Democratic campaign office. “He’s coming back to talk about the auto industry when he would have let it sink.”

Levin said he was “darn certain” Clinton would carry Macomb County.

“I have faith in that because the people in this county are better than the words and comments of Donald Trump,” he said.

Yanez said Trump’s appeal is bewildering because he has not represented workers and is against anything that would help the working class.

“The people of Macomb County are going to go to vote, they are not going to talk about it, they are going to wave a banner or fly a flag, they are just going to show up at the polls and do the right thing and vote for Hillary Clinton,” Yanez said.

Yanez also took swipes at Gov. Rick Snyder and said he believes the Democrats will take back his chamber and “take away the rubber stamp” that the governor has in Lansing.

“Donald Trump is going to destroy our tax base, make us weaker at home and make us weaker as a country,” he said.

Levin said although he understands how Trump resonates with some about the fear they have coming out of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, they are being hoodwinked.

“I think the county is in danger of being bamboozled,” he said. “And I think the world is.”

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood

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