Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Star News Network’s Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmaker line with details of Saturday’s Trump rally in Cullman, Alabama, describing the event as larger than usual with dark undertones due to Afghanistan debacle.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by our Senior Correspondent with The Star News Network and The Tennessee Star Laura Baigert. Laura’s been with us since the beginning. Four-and-a-half years. Good morning, Laura.
Baigert: Good morning, Michael.
Leahy: So you went to the Trump rally in Cullman, Alabama. Describe the day to us.
Baigert: It was really interesting. The media gets there first. We are supposed to set up our equipment to make it much easier for Secret Service and the other security folks to sweep all of our equipment and make sure nobody’s bringing anything untoward and put the president in danger.
There’s a constant stream of people from 8:00 in the morning getting in line. And the gates opened at 2:00 and, about quarter to three, there was an announcement. We could see black clouds were rolling in.
And I guess in Tennessee, we had some pretty severe weather, too, which, of course, we weren’t aware of down there. But the weather started rolling in – black clouds, thunder, and lightning.
And they made an announcement that they wanted everyone to leave the field and to go back in their cars and that they would be let back in and back through security. The interesting thing is this is how devoted people are to Donald Trump.
The storm came through for an hour and a half. It didn’t rain all that bad. It was moderate rain. You know that here it can really be torrential. But I was thundering and lightning intermittently. No one left the line.
We saw three cars leave, that was it. I mean, it could have been a total washout. The field was already wet because it had rained during the week before. And there was a huge concert there called Rock the South with Miranda Lambert and Luke Combs and other people there the weekend before.
They had to do a last-minute adjustment just to move to a different part of the field because the field was destroyed from the week before with the vehicles and all the people.
Unless you go to a rally it’s hard to understand the absolute devotion to Donald Trump and how people will breathe almost anything to get in to see him.
Leahy: The crowd size was estimated as greater than that, whatever that Southern Rock event was. That crowd had 30,000, your estimate was more than that, right?
Baigert: If we look at that, we take that as a piece of data. A statement came – actually a statement came from the senator who lives in Cullman, the state senator who is from that area. He said the attendance at the rally far surpassed anything. They made history that night.
Leahy: Wow. Saturday night Trump rally. Compare and contrast that rally with the many others you’ve been to with the most recent one up in Ohio. Then you also were at another rally in Phoenix. You’ve been very busy traveling around the country, by the way, Laura.
Baigert: Right. This was definitely bigger than Ohio. And the whole area that was fenced in was larger, and it was filled out to the edges. And people have said it was maybe 40 to 50,000. It’s a little hard to tell, and no one will give you an estimate. I asked. Especially the Trump people, they do not like to talk about it. Trump would probably tell you if you could ask him. (Laughter)
Leahy: It’s the biggest ever!
Baigert: Right. But it was very, very impressive. When you go through the idea of what people had to withstand through the entire day, then you get a sense of this is a really big deal and that people are not going to leave. And the other thing that is very interesting is how smart these people are.
Trump supporters we know for almost six years have been absolutely maligned. They are like Neanderthals that don’t understand anything.
But the subtleties that went on that you don’t necessarily hear and the audio recordings of anything, when people make these subtle references to the state attorneys general who got up and spoke about how we’re 214 days into the Biden administration, and we have 1,200 left.
And you could hear the grumbling. Southerners are kind of polite, so they’re not going to out and out boo you. But you could hear the grumbling throughout the crowd that they have no intention of letting Biden fulfill the term and waiting for Trump to be reelected in 2024.
Mo Brooks said, we need to get over 2020 and move on to 2022 and 2024. They were not having it. When Mo Brooks took that stage, he got so much applause.
They played a little commercial of his beforehand and his strong stance on January 6th. He led the effort to not accept the electors, and the crowd was just not having it.
And if it weren’t for Trump three or four times throughout the speech mentioning how strong Mo Brooks is, I think he would have been doomed.
Leahy: Why did Mo Brooks make that statement, knowing the crowd?
Baigert: I don’t know.
Leahy: What was he trying to accomplish?
Baigert: I don’t know. I think mainly for people to focus on the 2022 midterms, but they were just not having it. In the county that the rally was held in, Trump won with 88 percent of the vote.
And, in fact, people – the senator from that district said, all we want to know is who are the other 12 percent that voted for Biden? (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: Very interesting. Compare the feeling of this first post-Afghanistan debacle Trump rally with the other rallies you’ve attended recently. The rally in Phoenix was indoors. And then before that, the rally where you got the exclusive interview with former President Trump up in Ohio, which was also outdoors. Compare the feel of those events.
Baigert: Certainly Ohio was definitely more about the election and how it was stolen. And there was a lot of feelings about the election. And there was a little bit of what was going on with Biden, and it’s evolved and progressed.
Afghanistan has just highlighted how terrible on how this election turned out, the outcome of this election. And the completely damaging effects that it can have not just on our country, but on the world. And I think Biden gave Trump more material than anyone could ask for.
Unfortunately, it’s in such a terrible way. And I think this rally definitely had a less celebratory feel because of the darkness of what’s going on and the sheer devastation that is going on with these people in Afghanistan. This isn’t just things like your gas prices going up and inflation. This is a complete disaster. And he feels the humiliation.
Leahy: The humiliation of the United States by the Biden administration policies.
Baigert: Yes. And when he talked about what he witnessed at Dover, with families meeting their loved ones coming over.
Leahy: Dover, Delaware, which is the airbase where soldiers who have died in Afghanistan would arrive.
Baigert: Right. That was something we’ve never heard out of President Trump before. We know he’s very sensitive to the military, but that was a little glimpse of something we had never heard from him before.
Leahy: The last question, do you think former President Trump will run again in 2024 based upon that rally?
Baigert: Absolutely. I think he’s been planning on running all along, but because of election rules and laws, he can’t announce that yet.
Leahy: Do you expect him to be on the campaign trail for the 2022 midterms?
Baigert: Oh yeah. I think he’s doing a mix of that right now. What we saw at the Turning Point rally that featured Donald Trump.
Leahy: The one in Arizona last month.
Baigert: That featured all the candidates in Ohio he brought out and people he had endorsed. In Alabama, he did the same thing. It may not have been as obvious to everyone else if you didn’t watch the whole beginning of it.
Leahy: Here’s the last question for you. Where is the president’s next rally? And will you be there reporting for us? (Laughter)
Baigert: Well, we haven’t heard yet. It seems to take a couple of weeks before it gets arranged.
Leahy: I think you’ll be there. That’s what I think.
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