ELKHART, Ind. — President Donald Trump didn’t speak to agriculture except to say “we love our farmers” during a rally Thursday in Elkhart, before 7,500 people in a packed gymnasium.
But he did reaffirm his commitment to strengthen border security and tighten immigration laws, which could have a major impact on the supply of labor to farmers.
“We are going to build the wall. We are already starting the wall,” Trump said to his enthusiastic supporters. “We’re going to get rid of catch and release. We are going to go, eventually, to a merit-based system on immigration. You come in on merit.”
Supporters like Robert Herman, who called Trump “the best president since Abraham Lincoln,” didn’t walk away from the rally disappointed. “We got the best,” said the 75-year-old, a retired construction worker from nearby Edwardsburg, Mich.
Bob Hataburda, 61, said among the things he likes about Trump is his desire to build a wall at the border with Mexico and recent tax reform. “Everything is going good,” said Hataburda, an independent financial consultant about 60 miles to the west from Kingsbury.
“He’s putting America back on track again,” said Ron Spurgeon, 73, who made the more-than-three-hour trip with his wife, Nancy, from downstate Columbus. He is retired from Cummins, a prominent manufacturer of diesel engines with a plant in Columbus, the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence.
“He hasn’t really done anything that I disagree with yet.”
Several thousands of Trump supporters listened to him on loudspeakers outside North Side Middle School because there wasn’t enough seating capacity. There was some taunting but no observed violence between Trump supporters chanting repeatedly “build that wall” and opposition demonstrators with picket signs across the street.
During his one-hour presentation, Trump emphasized voting for Republicans in November to keep Democrats from derailing efforts to strengthen the military and border security and tighten immigration laws, and reversing tax breaks. He also claimed more than three million jobs have been created since he took office in January 2017 because of policies that he alleged Democrats would work against if they gain control of Congress.
“They’re weak on borders. Weak on our military. They fight to raise your taxes. They fight for all of the things we don’t stand for,” Trump said.
He hailed recent developments involving North Korea and withdrawing from the nuclear arms deal with Iran, struck under the Obama administration. He also went after Democratic U.S Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, calling him “sleepin’ Joe.” He said Donnelly talks a good game in public, then goes back and votes for “the radical liberal agenda.
“He opposed a measure to block illegal immigrants from getting welfare. And now you have places where they want to give college tuition to illegal immigrants and your own kids can’t get it. Your own kids can’t get it,” Trump said.
Chris Davis, 23, of Crown Point said he likes Trump for having “a lot of guts and standing up for a lot of the right things.” Davis, a college student majoring in business marketing, also found refreshing his commitment to “America First.”
Al Stevens of Hanna said the President deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for the about face taken by North Korea on its nuclear weapons program. “With the tax reform, I got more money in my paycheck every two weeks and I can’t argue with that,” added Stevens, a manager at the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Larry Kuntz, 71, of Cassopolis said what he likes most about Trump is him “standing up to the world and making things happen.
“He’s the best we’ve had in 50 years,” said Kuntz, a retired Air Force veteran.
Walter Dougherty, 75, a retired machinist at U.S Steel in Gary, said there’s nothing Trump has done that he doesn’t like. “I like him standing up for America. He likes America. So do I.”
Della Kirkman, 46, held a pink “Women for Trump” sign during the rally she drove in from Fort Wayne to attend. The tax accountant especially likes the recently adopted tax reform and feels Trump is being given a bad rap by Stormy Daniels and other women behind some of the controversy surrounding him.
“He’s been around tons of beautiful women and nothing has ever been claimed against him until he ran for president,” Kirkman said.