Above: Watch President Donald Trump’s full speech in metro Grand Rapids early Tuesday morning before the polls opened.
CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — President Donald Trump wrapped up his 2020 campaign, ringing in Election Day in metro Grand Rapids in hopes of repeating his 2016 success in Michigan and clinch a second term.
Vice President Mike Pence began speaking around 10:30 p.m. Monday. Trump began speaking around midnight Tuesday, later than scheduled after making several other campaign stops Monday.
Trump was also in North Carolina and Pennsylvania before stopping in Traverse City, where he predicted, “We’re going to win Michigan.” He then stopped in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before heading to West Michigan. Pence was in Traverse City, as well as metro Grand Rapids ahead of the president.
TRUMP WANTS 2016 REPEAT
The Trump campaign has been blitzing in Michigan. In addition to visits from various surrogates, Trump himself was here twice last week and again on Saturday.
“Tomorrow we are going win in this state and we are going to win four more years in the White House,” Trump told his supporters in Traverse City, touting trade policies that he says have benefited Michigan auto companies and saying he has kept his campaign promises.
He again disparaged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said she should “let the kids go back to school,” ignoring the fact that many Michigan students have been back in the classroom for months and that each district is making decisions about whether and when to go virtual.
When Trump brought the topic back up again in Grand Rapids, the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!”
He called on white suburban women, an important voting demographic, to pick him.
“The women of the suburbs are gong to vote for Trump because we love you and we’re saving you — A horrible thing was going to happen,” Trump said.
He later directed his comments to Black voters, another important voting group, saying he has improved job market for them.
He also threw his support by John James, the Republican aiming to unseat U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, and paused his speech to allow James a few words. Republicans are hoping to hold on to their majority in the Senate, which is in jeopardy. Ronna McDaniel, formerly the head of the Michigan Republican Party and now the chair of the Republican National Committee, was also on hand to support Trump.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huzienga, who’s seeking reelection for Michigan’s 2nd congressional district, spoke before Pence and Trump took the stage in Grand Rapids.
Peter Meijer, candidate for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and GOP Chair Laura Cox were also there to support Trump.
With 16 electoral votes up for grabs, Michigan is considered a key win in the path to the White House. An EPIC-MRA poll released Sunday morning shows Biden has a seven-point lead on Trump in the state.
Poll numbers were much closer in 2016 but Trump was still the underdog in historic terms — no Republican presidential candidate had taken Michigan in decades. Still, he managed to eke out a narrow victory in the state over then-opponent former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a margin of only about 10,000 votes.
Trump wants to do it again.
“You know we’re going to win. We’re going to win the state so easily. We want to do it just like last time,” Trump said.
In response, the Grand Rapids crowd chanted, “Four more years.”
“This is not the crowd of somebody that’s going to lose the state of Michigan,” Trump later said.
Grand Rapids was also Trump’s last stop on the campaign trail in 2016. He had an evening event scheduled at DeVos Place but didn’t take the stage until after midnight on Election Day, declaring, “The election is now.”
“In 2016, Michigan voted to fire this corrupt political establishment and you elected an outsider to put America first,” Trump said Monday. “I was elected to fight for you and I fight harder and harder and harder and better than anyone’s ever fought for you.”
“Thank you, Trump,” the crowd chanted in response.
PENCE: WE WANT TO BE IN MICHIGAN TONIGHT
During a one-on-one, Pence told News 8 Michigan was an important stop for them before the polls open.
“The people of Michigan said yes to President Trump in 2016. But that was about the promises he made,” Pence said. “And now, we’ve done all of those things.”
Pence explained why it’s important for Michigan residents to reelect Trump.
“This is a president that’s really delivered, and we want to be here in Michigan again tonight on the day before the election to ring in Election Day and make sure the people of Michigan know just how important it is that they vote for four more years for President Donald Trump,” Pence continued.
GRAND RAPIDS SUPPORTER ON LAST STOP: ‘I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER’
At Ford Airport, excited supporters wearing red Make America Great Again hats and a few with Trump masks came from all over the Midwest to be with their candidate.
“Of all the cities, he chose to come back to Grand Rapids, just like he did in 2016; and I couldn’t be happier,” Kim Shefferly of Grand Rapids said. “We need him as president and I’m here to support him.”
Even though they weren’t allowed onto airport grounds until 7:30 p.m., some supporters arrived outside 12 hours before that, bringing food to weather the wait and some with Trump merchandise to sell. Brian Toole of South Bend, Indiana, said other cars were already in line when he arrived at 7:30 a.m.
Several cars were still lined up outside the airport ahead of the president’s arrival even though gates to the event closed hours before.
“He could’ve probably filled this five times over with the crowd outside,” said Tanner of Howe of Grand Ledge.
“This is the last campaign rally so it’s a historical event and I want to be part of that,” supporter Alex Stella of Schoolcraft said.
Arrianna Jaeger of Canton said she tried to get into Trump’s 2016 rally in Grand Rapids but didn’t make it in time.
“We came out here and waited for a few hours, but now we actually get the chance to actually get in,” she said.
Moving into the election, a main concern was the speedy announcement of a winnner:
“I hope the count goes quickly and that it doesn’t take three months or maybe three weeks,” James Beachum of Bloomfield Hills said. “I think the count has to be accurate and fair and I think he’ll pull it out.”
“I’m thinking it’s going to be a landslide,” said Josiah O’Brien of Benton Harbor.
“I hope we can get the world back in order, back on its feet,” Shefferly added. “The wheels fell off back in March and it’s been a bad year and we really need this fixed.”
Some who were at the event had a few critiques.
“I feel like he needs to stop putting so much emphasis on how bad people are and really show what he’s going to do for us,” said Brianna Betz of Muskegon.
Nicholas Noe of Wyandotte decided not to vote for the president after attending the rally.
“A lot of it has to do with the COVID and coronavirus response,” said Noe. “That’s been worrying us and we were worried in there too because no one was wearing masks and there was no social distancing. So this is a real concern of ours.”
AvFlight, a private tenant of Ford Airport, is hosting the event. The airport said last week it reminded AvFlight to follow state and federal health guidelines, including the state limit on gatherings.
Trump isn’t the only person paying attention to Michigan. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was in Flint and Detroit Saturday, joined by former President Barack Obama. Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris is expected in Detroit on Election Day. Biden and Harris have focused on energizing the Black vote, especially in Flint and Detroit.