- Many attendees at Trump’s weekend rally in Waco said they’ll support him no matter what.
- The embattled former president is running for the 2024 nomination while under investigation.
- “All the solutions we need are strictly Donald J. Trump,” one diehard fan told Insider.
WACO, Texas — Baking in the central Texas sun for hours on end struck Jason as a small price to pay for the chance to bask in his hero’s presence.
“I”m just waiting for Trump,” the Waco resident, who declined to give his last name, told Insider.
The first-time rallygoer joined a sea of like-minded admirers, some of whom spent over 12 hours wandering around the heat-reflecting tarmac at Waco’s regional airport. They all gathered to hear the embattled former president officially begin his 2024 campaign.
Because it was his first visit to the immediate area, mutiple attendees told Insider they had to be there, hailing it as the “opportunity of a lifetime” and “a dream come true.”
Nothing was going to turn back the Trump faithful. Not the mile-plus hike many participants had to make to the airport as police turned back drivers without valid boarding passes nor the lack of cold water for sale by the on-site vendors.
After flying in from Palm Beach, Florida, Trump gave the crowd the first stump speech of his presidential bid: a listless recap of everything that’s irked the scandal-plagued 2024 candidate throughout his post-presidential life.
He lashed out at authorities looking into issues ranging from his alleged involvement in the deadly January 6, 2021 siege at the US Capitol to the $130,000 hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. He took some shots at anticipated 2024 rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, even though recent polling shows Trump with a commanding lead so far. And then he wound the whole thing up by making vague promises about fixing the entire world — if the crowd committed to sending him back to the White House.
“You will be vindicated and proud,” Trump assured the spellbound audience.
That was music to many onlookers’ ears.
The only thing that really matters
Many of the people Insider interviewed at the day-long rally said they either totally ignored or couldn’t remember much about the preceding speakers, a roster that included Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Republican Reps. Wesley Hunt of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“We got here for Trump. Just for Trump,” Connor Adams said of how he and his wife, Nguyen, had timed their visit.
Connor Adams told Insider he’d trekked to Waco from the left-leaning enclave of Austin, Texas, where President Joe Biden thumped Trump by 45 points in 2020. He wanted to commune with fellow conservatives and check in on “what’s really going on with our country.”
He said he was thrilled Trump had talked about sewing up the southern border and shutting down what Adams called the “pushing of transgenderism” in public schools. Adams added that he’s against transgender awareness campaigns “trying to make it a normal thing, when it seems to be a mental disorder,” and appreciates that Trump wants to fight it.
Nguyen Adams, who said she wouldn’t call herself a full-fledged Trump supporter, told Insider she was there mainly out of curiosity.
“I wanted to listen to a man who was a former president who was vilified,” she said, adding that “he deserves to tell his side.”
Linda Chambers, a resident of Robinson, Texas, had no such doubt, telling Insider that she wholly agreed with the local official who earlier in the day billed re-electing Trump as the solution for everything from closing the southern border to fixing the flagging economy.
“All the solutions we need are strictly Donald J. Trump,” Chambers said. “All the solutions.”
First-timer Jason couldn’t agree more.
“Whatever he says is just golden for me,” he said of the former president.
‘How did it all go to hell?’
Charla Sisk, a Waco resident who said she’d heard Trump speak at previous rallies, pushed back against the idea that Trump stokes violence or is solely out for revenge.
“I think that he’s very positive about what he’s gonna do with America,” she told Insider, praising Trump for striving to “pull us out of this big mess we’re in right now.”
She added that Trump defending himself, including incendiary jabs thrown at Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, is simply part of that process. “It’s just saying, ‘Hey, this is what happened? What are we going to do about it?'”
Trump is the only candidate Sisk said she’ll support for president, though she’d like to see failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake round out the 2024 ticket. When asked whether House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik, an ardent Trump defender, stands a chance in the veepstakes, Sisk burst out laughing.
“I’m not gonna vote for anybody from New York,” she said. Trump was born in Queens, New York, lived in Manhattan for most of his adult life, and only switched his primary address to Florida at the age of 73.
Nate, a resident of Lockhart, Texas who declined to give his last name, conceded that Trump’s narcissism, while exhausting, is also “kind of why he got elected” in 2016.
“It gets annoying,” Nate said of Trump’s harping about his 2020 loss. “If I had to listen to him while we were at dinner, I’d say, ‘Hey, buddy, we’re done. Let’s talk about something else.'”
Still, Nate said he supports Trump “because he’s not a politician.” Trump spent four years in the White House, has run for office three times, and now regularly stumps for candidates all across the country.
Chris, a Waco resident who declined to give his last name, said all the other 2024 candidates should save themselves the trouble because he’s not considering any alternatives.
Sporting a cowboy hat crowned with a MAGA visor featuring a faux head of Trump’s wispy blond hair, he told Insider: “I’m Trump all the way, no matter what. From A to Z, I love everything about him.”
Chris’ neighbor, Edy, who described herself as a “native Texan, under invasion,” said Trump’s 2020 loss was a real shock to the system.
“President Trump made me feel safer. The world is not safe,” Edy told Insider, adding that she’s worried that America is being taken over by communists and freedom-hating domestic terrorists.
The prospect of somehow losing the country she loves worries Edy, leaving her in a panic that is echoed in the frustrations that pour out of Trump whenever he’s handed a microphone.
“I don’t understand how he lost an election when we had the best economy, the safest border,” she said of the personally jarring last few years. “I mean, it’s like it all went to hell. How did it all go to hell?”