Rally-goers lined up far before the doors opened at President Donald Trump's stump rally for Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, with attendees camping out and others standing in line.
Surrounded by vendors and watching a large-screen news projection, many of these rally-goers showed up in large numbers for a president that they admire.
UK students Brett Lee and Griffin Hagan attended the Trump rally, their first they said, because of their support for Trump.
“I support the president and I’ve never gotten the chance to go to a rally at all,” said Hagan. He said that since he and Lee were both from Chicago, they did not have a lot of opportunities to go to such a rally.
“This is just our best chance to see him,” added Lee.
Lee and Hagan felt that the president should focus on Kentucky for his re-election because “a lot of typical red states are changing.”
“I feel like it’s kind of a complicated situation right now, especially with Mitch McConnell,” said Hagan.
Many rally-goers attended the rally because of Trump, not Bevin, even though the event was held to stump for Bevin in his re-election campaign.
Blanca Romero said she did not think the rally would influence her voting plans.
“To people it will, but not to me though," Romero said. "Most people just follow the crowd.”
Being from Lexington, she said she attended the rally to support Trump. She said she does not view Trump and Bevin as similar, but others do.
“Outside of their views in politics, I would say that they speak what’s in their minds and do what right not only for the people but for themselves,” said Dre Davis, who moved to Lexington from Indiana and plans to vote in the gubernatorial election. Davis is both a Trump and Bevin supporter and came to the rally in a group of three.
At his first Trump rally, he said he hoped the crowd would be loud and thinks that people who attend are “people who want to make America great.”
Ryan Helton, dressed in an American flag suit, had no expectations for his first Trump rally. As a Kentucky resident, he will vote in the election tomorrow.
Helton said it was nice to have a president take the time to come visit Kentucky.
“I think it’s huge cause I think Kentucky often gets left out of the national political scene because our primary is so late in the process,” said Helton.
Helton also believes Trump’s endorsement will help Bevin get elected because they are similar.
“They put America first. Bevin puts Kentucky first. They believe in free market capitalism,” said Helton.
Larry Caudill, who attended the rally with Davis, said the strongest similarity he sees between Trump and Bevin is that they are pro-life.
“I think Trump’s influence would help any Republican get elected,” Caudill said.
Women for Trump, blacks for Trump and gays for Trump all attended. Vanessa Urquizo stood outside with a sign to show her support for women and immigrants before going inside of Rupp Arena. She wanted to attend the rally to represent minority groups.
“I’d rather be more educated about what is happening and what his positions are since I’m a Republican," Urquizo said. "I want to know what my president’s vision is for the country and be here to represent the minorities who could not be here.”
Urquizo said she believed Trump’s endorsement would help Bevin, but that the election could go either way. Whether the rally went well or poorly would affect the election, she said.
“So far it seems like a pretty calm [event],” said Urquizo. Her goal for the evening was “to learn and understand his vision.”
Other supporters clashed with the protesters down the street from Rupp. One man, who would not give his name because he said that it would hurt his job, engaged with protesters several times on a bullhorn.
“All I want is for the country to do well,” said the man, who called himself a Trump supporter, saying he supports big business.
“I was respectful to Obama, I was respectful to other presidents,” said the man in an exchange with protesters.
Many rally-goers were Kentuckians, especially residents of Lexington.
The majority of Rupp Arena’s 20,000 seats were filled through the afternoon, and supporters continued to arrive as the rally began at 7 p.m. When the rally began, no one had yet been turned away and the parking lot area where supporters had lined up was empty except for chairs and vendors.