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Trump gets rock-star treatment from red-state crowd in Fargo

Supporters cheer on President Donald Trump at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.David Samson / The Forum1 / 7
President Donald Trump enters Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.David Samson / The Forum2 / 7
President Donald Trump enters Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.David Samson / The Forum3 / 7
President Donald Trump speaks at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service4 / 7
Rep. Kevin Cramer speaks with President Donald Trump at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service5 / 7
President Donald Trump speaks at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.David Samson / The Forum6 / 7
President Donald Trump speaks at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service7 / 7

FARGO -- The rock music was loud at Scheels Arena, and when President Donald Trump finally hit the stage Wednesday night, June 27, he got rock-star treatment.

Trump was met by a screaming sea of bright red Make America Great Again caps worn by Republican faithful in this deeply red state.

At 7:07 p.m., Trump appeared beside the mammoth garrison-sized American flag. The crowd roared as he waved and clapped, making his way to the podium with “I’m Proud to Be An American” blaring over the speakers.

Then they broke into a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

The campaign had the chance to book the 24,000-seat Fargodome, “and we should have taken it,” Trump said, saying thousands didn’t make it into the 6,000-seat arena.

“I want to congratulate the North Dakota State Bison,” he said, drawing a big cheer from fans of the national football champions.

Trump spent much of his speech feeding the crowd a lot of political red meat, drawing roars of approval for attacks on congressional Democrats, illegal immigrants, and what he called unfair trade deals, while touting tax cuts, a strong military, and creating a “Space Force.”

“We will make our great, great America stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump said.

Many at the rally stood throughout his speech, which lasted about an hour and 15 minutes.

The rally was supposed to be in support of Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer’s bid to unseat Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in the Senate. While Cramer did get a couple minutes on stage, the event came across more like a campaign rally for Trump.

In his few minutes in the spotlight, Cramer thanked the president for tax cuts and standing for unborn children.

For everyone living in flyover country, “Thank you for not forgetting us,” Cramer said, drawing cheers.

Trump returned the favor.

“We need Kevin Cramer to replace liberal Democrat Heidi Heitkamp” in the Senate, he said, adding later, “We must elect more Republicans in the Senate.”

The crowd liked what Trump had to say.

“He’s a simple man. And he’s talking to the common people here. He’s genuine. He’s the real deal,” said Carol Caughey, a Texan who once was stationed at the Minot Air Force Base as a KC-135 pilot.

One older woman was escorted from the arena after trying to protest during the president’s speech.

Crowd members yelled “Trump, Trump, Trump!” while pointing out the man, who was escorted away, raising his fist briefly.

The crowd loved Trump’s attacks on Democratic congressional leaders, and his calls to tighten immigration and build a wall on the nation’s southern border.

“Awesome. He’s super funny,” was the critique of Trump’s speech from Lauren Werner of Fergus Falls, Minn.

Werner’s cousin, Alise Werner, said she liked “everything about building the wall, getting those people out.”

The crowd had fun, too, despite many waiting hours in the heat and humidity to take their seats.

“It’s always fun to be at a big political event. It’s a chance for my son to see a sitting president,” said Mark Sornsin of Fargo, as he and 11-year-old Max waited for the president to appear.

Chad Hoyt and his wife, Pearl, drove five hours from Williston, N.D. to get to the event.

“I love it. It’s obviously a good turnout,” Hoyt said. “We had to come and give our support for Trump.”

With the Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” blaring from speakers, the crowd did a wave circling the arena, flashing signs for much of the hard-rock jam.

“I just want to be part of history,” said Clarence Dawes of West Fargo.

Dawes, who was in line at 8:15 a.m., said the wait was “worth it,” because he believes Trump is special among presidents.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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