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Anne Helen Petersen @annehelen
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I’ll be reporting all day from the Trump Rally in Great Falls, Montana. This is the first rally for about 400 miles in any direction, and people have driven here from all over. This guy drove 12 hours from Gillette, Wyoming.
Here at the counter-protest. “It was important for us to be here - to show that there are people who are opposed to bigotry and hate.”
Tons of Jon Tester signs in the crowd. “I find it hard to believe Montanans will go for what Trump’s saying about Tester. He’s our local boy. I felt like I couldn’t let Trump come to my town without registering how I feel.”
Elise, a member of the Little Shell, is here to get out the Native vote. A lot of the retirees she deals with at work are Trump voters. “Tester is a Native ally - especially for the Little Shell, as we work for federal recognition.”
Marina’s grandparents immigrated from Mexico. “I’m here to stand up for my beliefs and for those children. Tester has a good following of veterans who are Republicans.”
Dave is a vet and safety director at a company that employs many other vets - all of them Republican. “I don’t think Trump’s message about Tester will resonate with any vet in Montana who knows Tester.”
Ronny is from here in Great Falls: “being a Montanan is about that family feeling towards other people, even if you might know them. Trump is against all of that. He doesn’t know anything about us.”
These three are from Montana and were very proud to have made their own signs.
The Scott Pruitt news is rippling through this crowd (with the assistance of some signs). The other side of this sign calls attention to the reporters killed last week in Maryland. “Attacking freedom of the press sets such a dangerous precedent.”
Bobbi and Kate drove 5 hours from Libby, Montana to be at the protest. “It was important for us to be *present* - and to show Trump that not everyone wants him here.”
This woman’s husband is in the Air Force, stationed at the base here in Great Falls. “A lot of people are excited for him, but a lot are miffed - he came all the way here and he’s not visiting the base? He just wants to campaign for this Easterner?”
According to protesters, earlier in the afternoon, a man with a KKK flag and a Trump flag walked by. “He’s allowed to walk free, and we’re stuck in this fenced area next to the livestock pen?”
I’m now inside the press pen inside, where you’re not allowed to get water or go to the bathroom. Celine Dion is playing!
Donald Trump Jr. takes the stage; “I’m a big hunter big fisherman...you know Jon Tester didn’t buy a hunting license until the GOP went after him, that’s why they call him Two-Faced Tester”
Brings Gianforte and Steve Daines onto the stage: Daines: “Let me tell you something, Donald Jr is a heckofa shot. Every morning I wake up and I say thanks: thank God Hillary Clinton isn’t president.”
Gianforte: “This president has given this country hope again.”
Trump Jr: “Do you want Montana to be a sanctuary state?”

Big “no” from the crowd. [Montana is not a sanctuary state and has no sanctuary cities.]
Trump Jr: “If the media was a tenth more friendly to us, think of what we could do.”
Number of Trump Jr hunting mentions: Four (bow-hunting, hunting camp with Daines, I’m a big hunter, shooting prairie dogs with Gianforte)
Trump walks on, as usual to God Bless The USA - no sign of Rosendale yet, which makes me think he’s going to intro him during the speech to make a point re: Tester
Trump: “Steve Daines, running in 2020, we’re running together, Steve”

(Calling it now: this is a line that will come back for Daines)
Trump introduced Matt Rosendale, who’s running against Tester (and ostensibly the reason Trump is here today. Rosendale was one of the early Bannon-endorsed candidates and speaks with a heavy Maryland accent that is arguably his biggest liability
Trump bringing up a real Tester liability here - that he says one thing in Montana and does another.

Oh, and Trump just declared Maxine Waters the new head of the Democratic Party, who knew
Trump now expressing confusion as to how Tester got elected, which tells you something about how well he understands Montana (even Trump supporters will tell you they understand how Tester got elected)
Trump: “I won Montana by so many points that I don’t have to come here!”

This is another statement that’ll come back in 2 years.
Trump just mentioned that he’s meeting with Putin next week - and there was a huge cheer for Putin. “Getting along with other countries is a good thing” (Trump just wrapped up 10 minutes of talking about why NATO is unfair)
One thing Trump hasn’t mentioned, and that will have an outsize effect on the farming and ranching communities in this area: Tariffs.

Driving into town, local country station had 10 min of analysis on just how dark the effects could be & how essential it is to end the trade war
Trump just gestured at the press pen and called us the “crooked media.” Boos in our direction. “They’re the fake news.”

In case you were wondering about how the Maryland shooting has or hasn’t affected the discourse
President Trump: 75% of those people [pointing at us in the press pen again] are dishonest.

“These are really bad people.”
“They always want me to apologize for using Pocahontas.”

“Pocahontas, I apologize to you. To the fake Pocahantas, I don’t apologize.”

Montana is home to 62K Native Americans. Great Falls, home to the Little Shell tribe. Many of the people at this rally frequent Native casinos
Trump says that the Democratic party’s new platform is to abolish ICE and get rid of immigration enforcement entirely (Fact check: A handful of leaders have publicly advocated to abolish ICE and replace it with a different immigration enforcement system)
Trump mentioning how tax cuts have saved family farms (still no mention of trade war tariffs and their effects on family farmers)
Peggy’s first Trump Rally.
TO BE CLEAR, THIS ISN'T OUTSIDE THE RALLY. This is outside my favorite Great Falls establishment at 9 pm.
Here’s my piece from yesterday’s rally: on Trump’s red state absolutism, Jon Tester, and the president’s fundamental misread of Montana politics: buzzfeed.com/annehelenpeter…
Currently listening to 10 minute recap of the rally on local Great Falls country station:

"He mentioned Tester 18 times, and only mentioned Rosendale 6 times"

"He also mentioned 'Pocahontas' despite being in a state with seven Native American reservations"
I was told about a KKK flag by protesters but hadn't seen pictures until now. Photo by Eric Heidle.
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