Stephen Smith and Katie Walters, CFNN Reporters
President Trump made an appearance at our very own Fayetteville Regional Airport on Saturday, September 19th. What he called “The Great American Comeback,” was a rally with thousands of unmasked attendees. Whether it was a political awakening or a COVID playground, readers can be the judge.
President Trump is known for his controversial perspectives on social distancing and face coverings, openly expressing his disregard for the two at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know,” Trump stated, “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself.”
Later in May of 2020, Trump changed his opinion on masks saying, “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.”
While the risk of contracting the virus is still very likely, the Trump administration decided to continue his rallies in hopes of gaining support in the upcoming election.
Trump’s tour is still on-going, but one of the most concerning factors about the event is the negotiable mask policy. Masks are offered upon arrival but are not required. According to the Fayetteville Observer, one-third of the attendees were wearing masks.
Out of curiosity, three CFNN reporters decided to venture into the fire and see what a Trump rally was all about. Lorelei Harr, CFNN editor and reporter said, “Although I don’t agree with Trump, this is a part of history, that may never happen again.”
After arriving at the rally, we discovered that finding parking was difficult. The roads were not clearly marked. We followed a few cars and decided to go with the flow, ending up at the Fayetteville Motor Speedway.
After parking, it was about 5:45 pm. We boarded a 100-seat passenger bus that had no precautions for COVID-19 in place. To enter the bus you didn’t need a mask, but on the bright side, it was free. We were shuttled to the back entry road of the airport.
Upon arrival, we could ride a golf cart if there were enough seats available, or walk to the venue, lucky enough there were three seats left. We entered through a gate, guarded by security. We passed only one Trump protestor holding a sign, but no other protestors were allowed past that point.
Our temperature was taken before entering the landing strip. We walked through a long line of empty metal barriers, which were filled with hundreds of people hours before. We also went through a security check led by the Secret Service and Homeland Security.
We made our way to the center of the terminal, where Trump would be speaking. He had a small panel in the middle but was completely surrounded. We were able to stand next to the press station as we waited for The President to arrive.
The initial start time of the rally was 6:00 pm, and Trump arrived around 6:45 pm, fashionably late. After landing, it took him about 10 minutes to exit the Boeing VC-25 plane (Air Force 1). He was welcomed by a group of his most dedicated and maskless supporters, with no one there to oppose him.
He started off with his inspirational words, “We wanna win, we gotta win, we wanna save our country from the radical left, the radical left crazies.”
He continued to speak on the premise and focused primarily on “Fill That Seat,” a new campaign slogan for appointing a new Supreme Court Justice, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “It says the president is supposed to fill the seat right? And that’s what we’re gonna do, we’re going to do, we’re going to fill the seat,” Trump said.
It was known that Justice Ginsberg’s last request was for her spot to be left vacant until after the election, and only a day after her passing, Trump was prepared to replace her, already with someone, a woman, in mind.
It’s now been revealed that his nominee is Judge Amy Coney Barrett. A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, she was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 8th, 2017 by President Trump, and was confirmed by the Senate on October 31st, 2017.
The President continued on with this topic, eventually leading into some other non-related issues, making sure to give a shoutout to his opponent in the Presidential Race, “Sleepy Joe,” as Trump referred to him. After about 45 minutes, we were pretty tired and decided to head out.
The risk of going to the rally was not of the political tension but on the broader scale of COVID-19. “You understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” a sign at the entrance stated.
As of September 30th, the three CFNN attendees have not tested positive for COVID-19. The Cape Fear News Network encourages all people to follow all CDC guidelines and of course, wear a mask, even at a rally where it’s “not required.”
We did take notes as The President spoke, and here are some of our favorite sound bytes from the night.
After announcing that the new Supreme Court Justice would be a woman, he stated, “Actually, I like women more than men.”
Referring to Biden, “If I lose to him, I will never speak to you again.”
Directed towards interviewers, “From now on, I want you to give me the questions before you ask me them.”