Government

Trump’s Supporters, Opponents Gear Up for Rally

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Since getting the call from the White House last week, Mark Munroe has been busy morning, noon and night preparing for President Donald Trump’s visit today.

And he wonders if the people at the White House sleep at all, based on the frequency of their communications with him.

“It’s really kind of a blur,” the chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party reflected Monday afternoon. “These things, they’re fun to watch, it’s fun to be a part of, but they are a lot of work.”

Trump, now just six months into his term, is scheduled to touch down at 5:20 p.m. at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, motorcade to a discussion with veterans in Struthers, according to multiple sources, then head downtown for a rally scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the Covelli Centre. The Youngstown Police Department reported at midday Monday that more than 20,000 reservations for seats at the municipal arena, a venue that can accommodate about 7,000.

Munroe, interviewed at the county GOP offices in Boardman, said he doesn’t know specifically what the president would talk about but anticipates he will address “the broad themes we’ve been hearing about for the past year,” such as border security, national defense, unfair trade practices, the weak economy, revising the tax code and health care.

“I’ve had a couple of contacts with one of his speechwriters and it’s been fascinating to watch this whole process unfold, the lengths they go to to get details right,” Munroe said.

“They are very concerned about getting the local flavor to speak of the [Mahoning] Valley, and so we’re here to provide that kind of support as we can.”

Local Republicans have been asked to provide some logistical support including drivers for the motorcade and volunteers at the events, Munroe said. He declined to specify where additional events would be held.

“It’s not unusual when a president comes to a venue like this that they plan more than one event,” he said. “He definitely plans to be making good use of his time when he’s here.”

People have been regularly calling the party offices to find out information about the event, said Donna Bricker, Mahoning County GOP chairwoman. They also are stopping by in person to purchase Trump merchandise. Items on display include T-shirts, buttons and hats with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“They want anything with Trump on it, even if it’s not their size,” Bricker said.

The local GOP chairman said he believes Trump is coming to Youngstown because he has “just had it with Washington” and wants to talk to “the real people in the country who support what he’s trying to do,” he said.

“He’s dealing with Democrats who can’t get over the fact that Hillary [Clinton] lost the election. He’s dealing with Republicans who aren’t quite sure what to do with him, he’s dealing with a very hostile media and he’s trying to do something that is very difficult. He’s trying to change Washington, D.C.,” he said.

For those who come downtown for the rally but are unable to get inside the Covelli Centre – as of yesterday, the number of individuals reserved is about triple the arena’s seating capacity – arrangements were being made for overflow viewing outside the building, Munroe said.

“He wants as many people to experience this event in the best way possible,” he said. “It’s going to be a rocking party for Trump. It’s going to be exciting to see it unfold.”

In advance of Trump’s visit, Democrats were getting out their own messages.

A letter from Youngstown Mayor John McNally and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley warned Trump of the economic consequences for their regions if Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is slashed (READ LETTER).

When manufacturing jobs left Dayton and Youngstown, programs like Medicaid became “a lifeline” for many displaced workers, the mayors wrote. While both cities have seen resurgence in recent years, they are “continually challenged” economically.

Among Ohio counties, Mahoning County has the highest percentage of adults who receive coverage though Medicaid expansion, 14.4% of adults ages 19 to 64, while Montgomery County has 11.9% of adults on Medicaid expansion, according to the letter. Further, the opioid epidemic is “ravaging” both communities.

“We would urge you to form a bipartisan working group of lawmakers, governors and mayors to find solutions that will legitimately improve our health-care system,” the mayors wrote.

About 40 people turned out for a sign-making event at Mahoning County Democratic Party headquarters last night, David Betras, party chairman, reported.

Democrats will stage a protest beginning at 5:30 p.m. near the Chase Building downtown.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Betras said. “This isn’t the president coming in to announce some great local program. This is a campaign rally to make him feel good.

“The time to make him feel good is over,” he continued. We want action on the promises he made to Valley voters.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, also criticized Trump during an Oho Democratic Party conference call Monday afternoon.

Trump has “no record to run on right now,” and has not only not delivered on his promises but gone in completely the opposite direction of what he promised, Ryan said.

“He’s coming back to Youngstown because he’s really good at the marketing piece and he’s not really good at the delivery piece,” he said.

RELATED:
Why Youngstown voters still support Trump: Commentary by YSU’s Paul Sracic

VIDEO:
‘3 Minutes With’ Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.