On the side
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras will be one of the featured guests on “Why Trump Won,” a CNN special report, airing at 10 p.m. Monday, that looks at the Republican’s victory in the November 2016 presidential election over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Here an excerpt from Betras:
“I was having, you know, a lot of people just saying, ‘I can’t support her. I mean, you know, this guy wants to bring back our jobs.’ They didn’t care about all of his misogynistic homophobic, racist stuff. They just didn’t care. All they heard was jobs, jobs, jobs, and he’s going to try to get them jobs, and he sold them that, and we weren’t giving them sustenance. We weren’t talking to them. We were telling people, ‘You can’t support Donald Trump because he’s an idiot. And if you support him, you’re an idiot. Oh, vote for us.’ It just never works.”
The reception at Youngstown’s Covelli Centre for President Donald Trump was overwhelming.
The crowd of about 7,000 – some who stood for several hours waiting for the center to open so they could get a good seat – hung on the Republican president’s every word, cheering and chanting at the right moments.
Vice President Mike Pence was on Fox News after the event incorrectly saying Trump had 15,000 at the rally. That would have been quite an accomplishment as the facility holds less than half that amount.
One interesting aspect of Trump’s trip was it wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of ex-U.S. Rep. Jim Traficant.
The deceased former congressman, who spent seven years in a federal prison convicted of racketeering and bribery, landed $26.8 million in federal funding when he was in the U.S. House to build what is now called the Covelli Centre, where Trump spoke.
Traficant also got a considerable amount of federal money for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, where Air Force One landed and took off.
Like Traficant was, Trump is a populist who isn’t a fan of the media with a fiercely loyal following.
The existence of the base and center and the proximity to each other made Youngstown an ideal location for Trump’s rally.
Trump was able to pack about 7,000 into the center with the contention that more than 20,000 made reservations for the event.
Also, Trump came to “the center of the American heartland” to “speak directly to the American people” because he has support here.
During a stop in Struthers, Trump had a little bit of revisionist history saying: “Democrats, they win in Youngstown. But not this time.”
No, Trump didn’t win Mahoning County in last November’s general election – and he lost every precinct in Youngstown.
However, his 46.6 percent support and a loss to Democrat Hillary Clinton by only 3.3 percentage points in a strong Democratic county shouldn’t be dismissed.
It was the best showing for a Republican in Mahoning County since Richard Nixon’s win in 1972.
But Trump won practically every nearby county, including solid blue Trumbull, where he received 50.7 percent of the vote compared to 44.5 percent for Clinton.
The rally attracted plenty of people from outside Mahoning County, including those from other states.
Omarosa Maingault, a Youngstown native and Trump’s director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, told me: “Youngstown is so important to the president,” and that he “connected with the people of the Mahoning Valley” during a Sept. 5, 2016, campaign stop at the Canfield Fair.
At that fair event, Trump was in public for only a brief period of time, but was followed by thousands of people who wanted to see him.
Trump seemed to really enjoy Tuesday’s rally, spending about 55 minutes giving a campaign speech six months into his term as president.
During his talk, Trump made a number of boasts about his young presidency.
“With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. That I can tell you. It’s real easy. But sadly, we have to move a little faster than that.”
He added: “I think with few exceptions, no president has done anywhere near what we’ve done in his first six months – not even close.”
While Trump hasn’t exactly practiced unity during his time as president, he said: “When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. Although I’ll be totally honest with you even if it’s not united we’re unstoppable so don’t worry. We’re gonna be unstoppable either way but it would be nice, wouldn’t it? Our small differences are nothing compared to our common history, common values and common future.”
But he did close his speech with a message of coming together.
“It’s time to look past the old divisions. They’re tired, really tired, politicians. And the stale debates of the past, and to finally come together as one nation under God. We have no choice. We cannot and never will back down. We will never, ever give up. We cannot fail. And if we remember what unites us, then I promise you we will not fail. We cannot fail. We will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”