Austin Trump rally draws mixed responses

Sarah Philips

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump hosted a rally in Austin last night, bringing supporters and protesters alike to Luedecke Arena. 

Trump stuck to his greatest hits, speaking about jobs, illegal immigration and the Hillary Clinton email controversy.

“Hillary wants Obamacare and other things for illegal immigrants,” Trump said to the crowd. “In many cases, more than our veterans get.”

The GOP nominee was also joined onstage by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who was recently named as a member of the Trump Agricultural Advisory Committee.

“All these three-letter federal agencies that make me want to holler four-letter words,” Miller said, referring to agencies such as the IRS and the EPA, which he feels are restricting agriculture. 

Miller made a joke regarding the former New York senator’s tax policies.  

“Hillary does know something about agriculture,” Miller said. “She’s been milking the taxpayer for about 30 years.”

References to Hillary Clinton were met with boos from Trump supporters in the crowd showing their frustration towards the Democratic nominee. 

While most of the people protesting the rally stayed outside the gates, a few ventured into the heavily pro-Trump crowd.

Three protesters were escorted out of the rally, including a man wearing a Clinton t-shirt and a woman wearing a shirt that said “Jesus wouldn’t vote for Trump.”

About 5,500 people attended the rally. Luedecke Arena holds 9,400 people when the seats and floor are full. Last night, neither were at capacity.

Even though the stadium was not at capacity, supporters were not allowed into the rally once Trump began speaking. These supporters mingled with protesters outside of the stadium gates. 

Economics sophomore Bettina Darling, who attended the rally, is undecided in the race, but also believes younger voters may be using the wrong avenue to get information about the election

“As a whole message, Twitter is not an information source,” Darling said. “Young voters need to go beyond Twitter, they need to understand both sides; they cannot listen to their parents.”

Elizabeth Dean, a member of UT’s International Socialist Organization and supporter of Jill Stein, said she was protesting Trump’s rally because of his policies on deporting undocumented immigrants.

Michael Williams, economics senior at Texas Tech, was visiting family when he came to support Trump, who he feels has “brevity and honesty.”

“The honor of first female president shouldn’t go to a criminal, someone who had handled U.S. secrets in such an irresponsible manner,” Williams said. 

Nick Mollberg, a software consultant from Austin, stood near the protesters outside of the center’s gates wearing a purple and green suit and Trump mask painted to mimic the Joker in order to convey the message that the Trump campaign is “a joke,” Mollberg said.

“I’m just letting everybody know that Donald Trump has huge, huge hands,” Mollberg said. “He’s a very serious candidate with very serious issues, primarily amongst those the size of his hands.”

David Duncan, Travis County GOP executive vice chairman, did not attend the Trump rally, but did see Trump speak on the Sean Hannity Show at the Moody Theater Tuesday afternoon before the rally.

“I’m like a lot of people in Texas,” Duncan said. “They were hoping one of the other candidates would be the nominee, but we’re gearing up to support Trump here in the city. We need a large turnout.”

Duncan may be supporting the GOP nominee, but David Nalle, national director of Republicans for Gary Johnson says the Libertarian candidate could be appealing to voters who aren’t attracted to Trump.

“It’s the same rhetoric he’s used before — divisive and singling out minorities,” Nalle said. “Johnson and Bill Weld offer experience and a rational approach to government.”