GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Flag-waving patriots flocked to the “Squash Amash” rally Friday outside the Grand Rapids office of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-03).
The congressman has faced backlash from his Trump-supporting constituents after announcing on Twitter that he thinks President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.
One Amash voter told The Ohio Star Friday that he had difficulty understanding Amash’s position.
“The Mueller Report was a set-up, the majority of them are Hillary-supporters and Democrats,” he said of the Mueller investigation.
The rally drew participants from West Michigan and beyond. Hosted by the Michigan Trump Republicans, event organizers hailed from nearby Muskegon County and Oakland County in southeast Michigan.
Leading the crowd in chants of “Lock her up!” and “Squash Amash!” organizers kicked off the presidential campaign season in Michigan with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in celebration of President Trump’s 73rd birthday, which was Friday.
Event supporter Jeff Webb, founder of The New American Populist PAC, addressed the crowd briefly on supporting the president and America’s middle-class. The short podium presentation concluded with requests to visit the “No Justin Amash” website. Estimates of crowd size Friday were 200-300.
A wide variety of residents from Michigan’s Third Congressional District were represented, from lifelong GOP members to first-time Republican voters.
“Yes, I voted for Amash. I won’t be doing that again,” said Hank Haan, who joined the Marines during the Vietnam War. He said he appreciates President Trump’s understanding of American exceptionalism.
“People don’t realize it, but we’re living here in the best of times. You can’t compare America to other countries,” said Haan.
“I voted Democratic in the past, but I voted for President Trump because of his values,” said Madeline Tazelaar of Cascade Township. “He wants us to stop apologizing to all the other countries. I like that… President Trump is brutally frank, but that’s why he got elected, I think.”
The mood was generally pro-Trump, though most were willing to explain their position on Amash as well.
“Everything I want him to vote for, he voted against,” Nick Van Belkum said, declining to cite specific issues, but describing Amash as “arrogant.”
“The problem is that he has so much money and no one runs against him. He’s not even a Republican. He’s against what the Republican Party wants,” he added.
Centrist Republicans did mount a challenge to Amash in 2014 with Brian Ellis, but the effort fell short in the primary by nearly 15 percentage points.
Not everyone who attended, however, bought into the division between Trump and Amash.
“I’m not anti-Trump,” said Patty Malowney, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of West Michigan. “I like what Congressman Amash is doing. I like his integrity and he makes his decisions based upon principle, whether I agree with everything he says or not. The same with President Trump.”
Amash already has two challengers in the 2020 race for Michigan’s Third Congressional District. Both men, State Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) and veteran Tom Norton of Sand Lake, attended Friday’s rally.
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Abigail Nobel is a reporter for Battleground State News and The Ohio Star.