There were 40,000 tickets requested for last week’s rally led by President Donald Trump, and just 10,000 seats in the Monroe Civic Center.
If that wasn’t enough evidence that The Donald can turn out an energetic base, tow trucks were dispatched to remove vehicles from the Interstate 20 exit ramp — they were parked there by GOP diehards hoping to be closer to the venue.
There was also a rather sizable overflow crowd of hundreds of people (headcount unknown, but it looked like a lot heads) who simply stood outside while the president spoke inside.
In other words, this wasn’t just another election event held on a Louisiana fall evening.
While Trump’s supportive words for gubernatorial challenger Eddie Rispone led news stories overnight, there were likewise five significant takeaways worth remembering as we inch closer to the Nov. 16 runoff:
1.) The country is watching. So be on your best behavior. With Twitter One yet again touching down in Louisiana, which is hosting the last gubernatorial contest in the country, national correspondents are preparing to write stories over the next week and a half about our so-called gumbo of culture and politics. (The out-of-state money still headed here will be thicker than a roux, too.)
2.) North Louisiana is now the perceived battleground. This is especially true with the undecided vote in polls slimming down and Congressman Ralph Abraham on the sidelines. The president’s visit to Monroe should help Rispone edge out incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards in the quest to secure those primary votes that were won by Abraham, the third place finisher. Trump will be back here on Nov. 14 for a rally in Bossier City as well, in the general vicinity where Edwards has been performing strongly in early voting.
3.) This will undoubtedly be the year that early voting became a cornerstone of Louisiana politics. After record-breaking numbers at the polls and a personal drive-by from POTUS, who personally predicted (or rather he said he was told) that 40 percent of the final gubernatorial tally here may come from early voting, it’s no wonder campaigns are focusing on the process now more than ever. Early voting may even decide this election. Who knows? Maybe next cycle will feature a slew of “early voting consultants” who will specialize in nothing but this process.
4.) While Trump covered a variety of issues in his speech, there did seem to be a targeted list of policy topics. It goes to reason that these were issues the GOP felt bullish on as of last night, and they included car insurance, taxes, 2nd Amendment, immigration, energy and crime.
5.) This race has officially become all about Trump. If Rispone wins and Edwards loses, most of the credit will go to the current occupant of the White House.
While I usually reserve this opinion column for my own words and thoughts, the political rally held in north Louisiana last week for Trump and Rispone offered some of the hardest-biting quotes I’ve ever personally heard while covering such an event.
So I’m dedicating the remainder of this column to those words, directly from the folks who made the rally tick.
Here you go:
“Unless you’re happy with crappy I want you to vote for Eddie Rispone for governor.” —U.S. Sen. John Kennedy
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb.” —JNK on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“I was elected to be president of the United States not president of the world.” —President Donald Trump
“We need something different if we’re going to be different.” —Eddie Rispone
“John Bel Edwards wants you to believe he’s not one of those liberal lunatics trying to impeach our president.” —ER to JBE
“That’s how much I like Eddie. I’m here for early voting.” —DJT
“I’m coming back here on Thursday. I’m doing a double.” —DJT, regarding his Nov. 14 stop in Bossier City
“The locals treat me good. The fake news doesn’t treat me too good.” —DJT, on the media
“Would you rather be at LSU-Alabama or a Trump rally? Let’s take Trump rally.” —DJT
“I don’t know how the hell he ever got here. This is Louisiana? How did you get a liberal Democrat as your governor?” —DJT
“The Democrats are lousy politicians.” —DJT
“You only have 11 years to live folks, 11 years, because climate change is coming up real fast.” —DJT, mockingly
“I should have said I don’t want the wall and the Democrats would have built it.” —DJT
“Sleepy Joe Biden is as dumb as a rock.” —DJT
“He knows energy better than Joe Biden’s son.” —DJT, after asking an 8-year-old in the audience his age, in reference to the former veep’s son Hunter Biden, whose connection to a Ukrainian energy firm has been the focus of speculation
“Pocahontas is emerging from the ashes. Not a nice person.” —DJT, on Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
“You people work your asses off.” —DJT, to the audience
“That’s what we are — we’re a majority, and we’re angry.” —DJT
Jeremy Alford can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.