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INGRID JACQUES

Jacques: Grassroots base 'fired up' for Trump

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally in Battle Creek on Wednesday night, four of his most avid supporters eagerly awaited his arrival and their chance to greet him as he walked off Air Force One. 

These four Michiganians have put in countless hours working for the president, and they are as confident as ever that Trump will be getting four more years — and that Michigan will come through for him in 2020.

The fact such grassroots activists within the GOP were chosen to meet Trump says a lot about the president’s re-election strategy and who is going to be fighting for him in the coming year. 

Meshawn Maddock, on the national advisory board for Women for Trump, talks about how she thinks Trump will do in Michigan in 2020, in Battle Creek Wednesday.

Meshawn Maddock, a founder of Michigan Trump Republicans and Women for Trump, is also actively working on Trump’s 2020 campaign. She was one of the four at Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field. 

Also on hand were Linda Lee Tarver, president of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan and national advisory board member of Black Voices for Trump; Terry Bowman, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and Workers for Trump; and Rocky Raczkowski, who leads the Oakland County Republicans and Veterans for Trump. 

While these GOP enthusiasts were pumped up to talk to Trump, they also acknowledged the somber reality that Congress was set to impeach the president during his Michigan rally (which turned out to be true). But they also felt this was the perfect place for him to be when it happened — with his supporters cheering him on. 

Michigan supporters, from left, Meshawn Maddock, national advisory board member of Women for Trump, and Linda Lee Tarver, national advisory board member of Black Voices for Trump, take a photo, as does Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski, in background, national advisory board member of Veterans for Trump, as Air Force One arrives at Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field in Battle Creek.

“It feels significant,” Maddock said ahead of Trump’s arrival. “But it doesn’t feel like a lost moment in history.” 

Maddock says impeaching Trump is only going to cement the coalition backing the president, who has remained wildly popular among most Republicans. 

“This has fired up our base,” she says. 

As an example, Maddock points to how events around the state are usually filled to capacity. At least 150 women attended a Women for Trump event in Sterling Heights on Wednesday, she says, and these events are consistently sold out. Even some Democratic women show up sometimes. 

And these women are motivated to support Trump because the policies he’s advocating are making their lives better, Maddock says. 

That’s the message that seemed to resonate most with the thousands who turned out for Trump’s rally at Kellogg Arena. 

Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee, shakes hands briefly with President Donald Trump after he invited her on stage during a political rally in Battle Creek.

In a two-hour speech that jumped from dissing Democrats (and his impeachment) to bashing illegal immigration, what got the loudest cheers from the Michigan crowd was when Trump touched on the positive elements of his presidency — including job growth, a strong economy, conservative judicial appointments and new deals on trade.   

The audience didn’t really seem to like it when Trump went after Michigan’s Rep. Debbie Dingell, and the memory of her husband, former Congressman John Dingell, who died earlier this year. 

What this largely blue-collar, middle-class crowd loved was hearing about the policies that are improving their lives. Trump should take note. 

The president also received resounding support over his impeachment, which happened in real time during the rally. 

Ashley Thompson of Freeport and her daughter, Paige Pierpoint, 11, were at the event with other family members to show their confidence in Trump. They’d stood in line since 11:30 Wednesday morning to get a standing-room spot close to the stage. 

When asked their opinion of Congress’ decision to impeach the president, Pierpoint chimed in: “Very low.” 

That’s also what Maddock and the other Michigan Trump devotees think. They believe impeachment could backfire on Democrats. 

“I think he’s going to win Michigan,” Maddock says.

ijacques@detroitnews.com 

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, waves as she steps from the stage next to Michigan Republican Party co-chair Terry Bowman, right, at a Donald Trump rally at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.