Supporters see Trump as an agent of change
Monday night, John Martin sat down to write a letter. He felt that he had to, that there were things he needed to say.
“Mr. Trump,” he wrote. “We have become a nation of people that don’t know how to win. We have taught our children that just to be there was enough to get a prize. To show up at a workplace entitled you to a paycheck.
“Our nation, and I too, am coming to a crossroad. Many questions have been stewing in my gut for the past year and one question is, why do I even try anymore?”
Jobs are gone, explained Martin, a Grand Junction general contractor. Industry seems like a memory. American workers lack opportunity.
“I envy my father and grandfather’s generations,” he wrote. “They put a man on the moon. They built amazing cities and experienced great prosperity.
“I remember as a kid walking the sidewalks and seeing the concrete stamped by the company that placed the cement. They were proud of what they produced and they wanted generations to know what they had done.”
So he stood in line for an hour and a half Tuesday afternoon, the letter he wrote on Facebook Monday night neatly printed and folded into an envelope. He knew he probably couldn’t get it to Trump, but it felt good to hold it, knowing he had done his best to articulate why he will be casting a vote for Donald Trump.
Martin was one of more than 2,000 who trekked to Grand Junction Regional Airport from across the Western Slope Tuesday to attend a rally with Trump in a hangar at West Star Aviation. Those at the front of the entrance line, which snaked down the street and around the corner from West Star, arrived Tuesday morning, hours before the posted 3 p.m. start time.
Anthony Galvan, a 50-year-old Grand Junction resident, said he got in line at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
“(Trump) is honest and he is going to protect our Constitution,” Galvan said. “He is going to make sure he protects our rights. A lot of people are dedicated to Trump, and we love America and want to make sure it stays great.”
To that end, many in line wore “Make America Great Again” baseball caps — and “Adorable Deplorable” T-shirts, in some cases — and expressed varying reasons for braving the wait and the crowd.
Jay Vickers drove to the Trump rally from Montrose because he couldn’t stay away.
“I’ve never felt so strongly in my life that I needed to be here,” he said. “I feel that our country has gone down the wrong path, and I’ve seen what’s happened here on the Western Slope.”
Vickers, who is 54 years old, works in the oil and gas industry.
“I went in (for Trump) straight away as soon as I heard that Hillary Clinton would be running for office … the things she and her husband did — I just don’t trust her,” Vickers said.
Vickers said the controversies surrounding Trump didn’t sway his vote.
“Everybody’s human. I’ve said things in my life that I wouldn’t be proud of. I don’t like some of the stuff he said, but I don’t elect a president to be my friend, I elect them to get the job done. I have to support Trump to block Hillary.”
Sarah Tafoya, a Grand Junction mom who got her daughter, Aubrianna, 9, out of school early so that they could attend the rally together, echoed the sentiment: “We watched ‘Hillary’s America’ the other night and me and my husband were both freaking out,” she explained and Aubrianna, a third-grader at Caprock Academy, nodded. She’d changed out of her school uniform and into a “Hillary for prison” T-shirt and jeans in the car on the way to the rally.
The Tafoyas weren’t the only mother-daughter pair at the rally. Joan Brown, 80, of Rangely, asked her daughter to drive from Vernal, Utah, to take her to the rally. She said she wanted to show her support for Trump.
“He cares for the United States. He’s not in it for screwing the American people like the last eight years have been and like it will be with Hillary, and he doesn’t lie. If he does, he’s still better than she is.”
Brown’s daughter, 30-year-old Ashley Caldwell, said she wouldn’t have come if she wasn’t taking her mother, but she also supports Trump.
“I think he’s honest and he’s more like a human being than any of the other (candidates),” Caldwell said.
Cardell Jumonville of Parachute said Trump is the candidate who can bring jobs back to America. Tuesday, Jumonville was resplendent in a stars-and-stripes blazer with matching stars tie and red trousers that he’d bought at Spirit Halloween in Grand Junction. His nephew, Tripp Lajeunesse, 9, a fourth-grader at Thunder Mountain Elementary, was wearing a “Red, white and cool” T-shirt.
Jumonville said his support of Trump has been gradually building over the past months, and his explanation is simple: “I work in the oil and gas industry.”
Parachute, he said, is empty “and we have to do something.”
In fact, among the biggest cheers Trump got Tuesday was when he promised to “release American energy, including shale oil and natural gas.”
The mood in and around the hangar could have been interpreted, in part, as battered optimism from people who have been through more than one boom-and-bust cycle and wanted to hear that the things they perceive as broken can be fixed. Many in line readily signed up to volunteer with the Trump campaign as Sharon Anable, a Grand Junction chiropractor, patrolled along it with a clipboard.
The volunteerism seemed to be motivated by a prevailing sense that things need to change. How they need to or will change is yet to be determined, perhaps, but that was the thing almost everyone could agree on Tuesday.
Kathy and Peter Kurtz drove from Hotchkiss with their 19-year-old granddaughter, Liz Comfort, to see Trump. This will be the first time that Kathy Kurtz, 58, and Peter Kurtz, 54, have ever voted.
“I can’t fathom voting for Hillary,” Peter Kurtz said. “I don’t trust her, she’s dishonest and I worry what would happen to our country if she was in office.”
Kathy Kurtz said listening to Clinton’s plans for the country motivated her to register to vote.
“I thought, ‘I can’t stay home and not vote,’” she said.
Comfort said she was a Bernie Sanders supporter before Clinton became the Democratic nominee. Now she’s undecided.
“I just want to be involved,” she said. “I did like the attacking of the media.
“It’s nothing personal.”