President Gets Strong Reaction From Crowd in Wheeling

Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough Members of the Howes family wait eagerly to hear President Donald Trump speak Saturday evening at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. Rezin Jr., from left, and Joyce Howes attended the event with their son, Rezin III. The younger Howes is a small business owner and supports Trump because of his background as businessman. The family lives in the Harrisville area.

WHEELING — They danced and sang, chanted and waved signs — and they expressed overwhelming support for President Donald J. Trump.

The thousands of people who visited WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling on Saturday evening cheered as the President spoke, reacting especially strongly when he mentioned coal or steel. They also booed loudly when Trump referred to high-ranking Democrats such as former President Barack Obama or current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Tom Michaud, of Wheeling, said he wanted to see the President speak because he believes we are experiencing a pivotal time in American history.

“This is a historic cultural phenomenon, not just because Donald Trump is President, but because this kind of political energy,” Michaud said. “This is something I wanted to witness firsthand.”

Yvette Hershey, also of Wheeling, said she and her husband, Mike, agreed with Michaud.

“This is a pivotal time,” Hershey said. “My husband and I are expecting our first baby any day now, and we couldn’t miss this moment.”

The Howes family, of East Ohio, said they came to see the President because he understands the people and businesses that the country is built upon.

Rezin Howes III, of Harrisville, is a small business owner who operates Integrity Insurance, based in St. Clairsville.

He said Trump’s background as a businessman is an important reason why he supports the President.

“I’ve been a small business owner for 12 years, and this is the first time we’ve had a businessman who understands small businesses,” Howes said. “He understands that we are what makes up America.”

Howes added that he believes Trump’s policies will help small businesses across the nation become more profitable.

Joining Howes at the event were his parents, Rezin Jr. and Joyce Howes.

“I’m for America and I’m for the wall,” Joyce Howes said regarding Trump’s proposal to construct a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico. “I think he’s the best president we’ve ever had.”

As attendees waited for the President to arrive, loud music played in the background. Selections included a few old standards mixed with rock and roll, featuring popular artists of the 1980s and ’90s, such as Michael Jackson and Guns ‘N’ Roses. The arena was packed with people in the seats that rise high above the floor and in chairs directly in front of the stage. People stood along walls and near doorways, straining to see over others in the crowd.

As they waited, people danced to the music, waved signs above their heads, chatted with those seated nearby and smiled nonstop. Their signs featured slogans such as “Trump Digs Coal” and “Buy American Hire American. A few signs drew on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” including versions such as “Make America Safe Again” and Make America Strong Again.” Other old favorites from the Trump campaign, such as “Drain the Swamp,” could be seen as well.

Trump took the stage to the strains of “Country Roads” to deliver his message that his supporters must also turn out to vote for Patrick Morrisey for U.S. Senate on Nov. 6. The Republican Morrisey is currently West Virginia’s attorney general and is seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. Trump’s remarks drew strong reactions from the crowd. It is one of several races in a midterm election that Trump termed “one of the most congressional elections in our lifetimes.”

People cheered loudly as the President talked about the policy changes he has made since taking office.

“Nobody’s ever had a presidency like this,” he declared, drawing shouts of support and loud applause.

Trump also thanked Mountain State residents for voting in his favor in 2016. He said he achieved a 42-point victory in the state.

“You took me in,” he said. “But I produce.”

The crowd happily responded to prompts from Trump — and from Morrisey when he took to the podium — chanting “Joe’s gotta go” and “Build that wall.” A few people in the crowd shouted out spontaneously, yelling things like, “You tell ’em Trump, and, “We love Trump.”

Rich Lucas, of Wheeling, was on hand for the event and said he currently is serving as treasurer of Ryan Ferns campaign for re-election to the West Virginia Senate. Ferns, R-Ohio, is the current Senate Majority Leader and faces a challenge from Democrat William Ihlenfeld, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Lucas said he attended the rally simply because the President came to town.

“Anytime a sitting president visits our city, I consider it a complete honor and I would certainly come out to see them,” Lucas said, noting he also attended appearances by former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when they occurred throughout the region. “I pay attention, and I vote. I consider it a privilege to be able to vote, and I pay attention to what each person stands for. I believe the person is more important than the party.”

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