A large crowd along one side of Keith St.
People carrying placards with colorful saying on the other side.
Dancing to the tune “Jump Around” with a little tossing around of the pigskin around.
If you didn’t know a major candidate for president was in Eau Claire, you’d think there was a University of Wisconsin football game going on in town instead.
The official capacity for Eau Claire Memorial’s auditorium was around 1,500, but there were many, many more that were unable to get inside. At one point, the line stretched from the front of the auditorium nearly to Brackett Ave.
Much talk around Trump’s rallies this election season – even during this week here in Wisconsin leading up to the April 5th primary – have had signs of ugliness. However, officials we talked with say things went relatively smoothly as those for and against Trump voiced their opinions.
That same camaraderie was found at the day’s other campaign rallies in Eau Claire – Bernie Sanders in Zorn Arena at UW-Eau Claire and Hillary Clinton at the Lismore Hotel downtown. Late Saturday night, the Eau Claire Police Department said via its Twitter account there were 12,000 attendees at all three rallies and that they reported no citations, arrests or issues which arose across all three events.
While there were many strong opinions seen and heard today at the final event of the day, many of those for and against Trump agree the Saturday night event was relatively peaceful and those who were inside to hear Trump’s address were relatively pleased by what they heard.
“I thought it was a lot more level-headed, he did address as I mentioned many of those important issues,” Tom Simmons of Altoona said to WEAU 13 News on Saturday. “I would love to hear even more details from him to appease the people who have criticized him for the lack of.”
“The media portrays his Trump speeches as kind of intense but I thought it was super laid back, I feel like he really related with his audience a lot and I liked it a lot,” Emma Fentress of Eau Claire said after hearing Trump’s remarks.
“I thought it was great, I like that he wants to make America great again, and that’s the bottom line isn’t it. And I thought he said everything I wanted to hear and more.”
The candidacy of Donald Trump this election season has been marked with very visceral feelings – from both those for and against the billionaire businessman.
For those faithful backers who were in line to get in – some, waiting for several hours ahead of Saturday’s address, the word going in wasn’t anger, but euphoria.
“It’s been fun,” James Lindo of Menomonie said to WEAU 13 News before the address Saturday. “You know, you get a lot of good people. A lot of people don’t like him. A lot of people do. But, it’s just fun with everyone you talk to.”
Bonnie Wiech, who drove to Eau Claire from Burnsville, Minn., said: “We believe in what Donald Trump is doing and we want to show that not all Minnesotans are against Trump and we believe in him,”