Notes from the Campaign Trail (Uncensored/Unedited Version)

Uncensored/Unedited Version of Donald Trump article posted in the CCBC connection (http://blog.ccbcmd.edu/connection/opinion/notes-from-the-campaign-trail/#more)

It was Tuesday. A shy glance at Facebook notifies me of the big news.

“Donald Trump speaking in Berlin, MD”.

Now I know a good story when I see one. I smelled extra credit for journalism class, or at least a good article.

I tend to drag my good friend Nathan along for the ride when I cover stories, and this case was no exception. He phoned our mutual friend Sean to come with us. Nathan also picked up his friend Liza, who was conveniently placed on the way there.

I was warned of covering this story, after all, we had Chicago. But this was in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, how bad could this be?

To begin, Liza was already stress-vaping. The car smelled of cotton candy from the flavoring. I was worried that we might stick out like a sore thumb. Liza was carrying around a sign that read “free hugs”.

Two and a half hours later, we made our way to Berlin. We parked in a cornfield not too far from the event. The line stretched out far beyond the high school where the rally was to take place.

People took up Liza’s offer of free hugs.  Then she and Nathan discussed Vulcan hand symbols and vaping. Sean texted on his phone.

I tried to get to interview with someone, but he was immediately on the defensive. I couldn’t use his sound bites for class.

People were selling T-shirts and merchandise on the way up. I manage to catch a glimpse of a T-shirt that reads “Hillary sucks, but not as good as Monica!” and “Trump that bitch!” (also in reference to Hillary Clinton).

When we got about halfway to the school, a police officer informed us that they were at max capacity.

Across the school was a protest of the rally. Nathan and the others were immediately drawn to it.

I pulled out my notebook and started taking notes. The first thing I noticed was the police. They were clad in riot gear. I heard shouting across the line.

I looked up at a nearby building. There were snipers on top.

Snipers! I wasn’t expecting that.

Then more shouting. I heard one protestor shout “Eat a bag of dicks!” at someone.

Someone from across the line wanted one of Liza’s free hugs. She attempted to cross the line, but was turned away by police.

Someone shouted “Lock ’em all in jail!” I couldn’t tell the context from that sentence alone.

A man ran through the crowd of Trump supporters, himself a Trump supporter. Since he was black, others began to make racist comments, something about him running to a job interview.

Liza talked me about the part that worried her the most: the hardcore Trump supporters were millennials.  She expressed deep dismay about the state of her generation.

We left shortly thereafter, stopping at Taco Bell to collect our thoughts and have some late dinner. We recorded a podcast in the car to complete our discussion.

I offered a great point of contrast between this and the Bernie Sanders rally that I attended not too long ago. I was able to get named quotations from people rather easily at that rally. I was surprised at how eager people were to hold interviews.

By contrast, there was an air of open hostility at the Trump rally. I tried catching interviews, but it wasn’t successful. Most of my quotations came from people shouting in the crowd.

I still have the images of the police and snipers burned into my mind. There was no such beefing up in security at the Bernie Sanders rally. But then again, tension was clearly much higher here. Bernie wasn’t at the rally anyhow.

As I left Trump’s rally, I felt a sense of unease. If this man becomes president, what will the political landscape look like?