Rise and Shine with Donald Trump

Posted: January 19, 2016 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Donald Trump speaks to a standing-only crowd at Living History Farms in Urbandale on Friday.

Donald Trump speaks to a standing-only crowd at Living History Farms in Urbandale on Friday.

Donald Trump began his presidential campaign as a reality star candidate and has quickly and unexpectedly morphed into the Republican party’s frontrunner in national polls. At 7:30 on a Friday morning, several friends and I packed into a car and drove to Urbandale’s Living History Farms to figure out what makes a Trump supporter a Trump supporter.

Unsurprisingly, after being welcomed by Trump’s one-woman hype team Tana Goertz, a West Des Moines native and Apprentice alumnus, the sleep-deprived candidate failed to appear for over half an hour. 45 minutes from when Trump was originally scheduled to speak, the predominantly older crowd began to clap and chant his name in unison only to be hushed by a campaign volunteer who informed the crowd that the business mogul was in the middle of an interview. Despite this show of disrespect for the waiting group, Trump was welcomed by a loud round of applause when he took the stage 15 minutes later.

Unlike his fellow Republican candidates, Trump’s speech did not appear to be rehearsed and included his disapproval of how the U.S. has handled current events such as the recent capture of American sailors by Iranians.

Although Trump has declared in the past that he is the only reason why immigration is being discussed this election cycle, he barely glossed over his position on the controversial subject. His supporters, however, had firm opinions on the topic.

“We were raised in the great American melting pot and now it’s just the opposite,” said Des Moines resident Andy Wyckoff, appearing frustrated at the inability of schools to host a Christmas pageant or have prayer in classrooms.

His father Don echoed his son’s sentiment, though he appreciates what other cultures contribute to the American identity.

“Everything we have is from another ethnic group,” Wyckoff said. “It’s been adapted along the way, but now, for some reason, the intellects want to make us think that everyone should hold on to their own culture and it divides people.”

When it comes to building a wall, which would literally divide populations, the father and son team voiced their support based on its ability to allow immigrants to be vetted before entering the country. Along with several other supporters standing crowded in the small space, the men were not opposed to letting people into the country but were concerned about illegal immigrants and those who skip the vetting process.

Trump’s 15 minute speech and following 15 minute question and answer portion was disappointingly uninformative and, at times, blatantly evasive. When asked about what he would do about student debt, Trump responded by explaining why student debt is so high without outlining how he would begin to ease students’ financial burdens.

“I’m going to look into it very seriously,” Trump said. “The cost of running these colleges has gotten out of control so we’re going to to be working on that really hard.”

The wealthy businessman also heavily relied on his experience in the economic sector when responding to several questions regarding how to fix Congressional overspending.

“You get them in a room and you say, ‘Do it,’” Trump said of the House and Senate budget committees. “That’s what I do.”

If that seems too good to be true, it may be. For a candidate who claims to be at 42 percent in national polls following last Tuesday’s Republican debate (it’s actually more like 35 percent), a thorough and practical plan, rather than an idealistic hope, is to be expected as the race drags on. His accuracy with facts was also put in question when he declared that America is the highest taxed country in the world, even though it doesn’t even make The Economic Times‘ top 10 list.

Following the event, Ames resident Ben Gauger, wearing a “Hillary for Prison 2016” T-shirt and a tan fedora, stood just outside the press gates while protesting his uncommitted support for Trump based on his brash demeanor in the face of national media.

Iowan and Christian conservative Marie from Baxter shares this appreciation for the bold candidate’s ability to stick by his principles in difficult situations, comparing him to former President Ronald Reagan  during the Cold War, but she also has yet to give her full support to Trump.

“I’m probably 80 percent with Trump right now,” Marie said, noting that her support of the candidate is unusual in her Cruz-supporting friend group. “I’m tired of being wishy-washy and being nice; it doesn’t work. I think we need to protect our country.”

Trump supporters are desperately concerned for the preservation of our rights as American citizens. They want to be protected from foreign dangers and generally believe that the possession of a gun will provide them with a greater sense of freedom and individual autonomy. He says what people are thinking, and what they’re thinking is driven by fear and the need for a new perspective.

Sarah LeBlanc, Betsy Hart, Elizabeth Stanczyk, Adam Sickley and Gaary Teow contributed to this post.