If you have to describe a Donald J. Trump campaign rally in one word, it would be loud.
The unique concept of continuing to campaign even after you’ve been in office for two years made its way to the John Q. Hammons Center on the campus of Missouri State University Friday evening.
About 12,000 people packed the arena and according to the president, three times that many people, who couldn’t get in, were watching the rally on video screens outside.
According to a Missouri Highway patrolman, who was stationed outside, that number was closer to 4,000.
Red “Make America Great Again” hats could be seen on people blocks away from the rally.
As a slight rain fell, thousands of Trump supporters lined the sidewalks hours before the event was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
Inside the arena, men and women of all ages filed into their seats and onto the standing room only space on the floor sometimes pushing forward to get close to the T-shaped stage.
About 20 feet away was the closest they would get since there was a buffer zone set up with barricades and 10 Secret Service agents watching in all directions.
Media, relegated to the back of the hall, jockied for position in a three-tiered structure of cameras, laptops seemingly held together with miles of audio cables.
In comparison to the large arenas and stadiums where Trump rallies are held, the JQH Arena looked relatively small and the placement of the podium in the near center of the room, placed the president in a theater-in-the-round setting.
The trickle of a crowd at 4 p.m. grew larger and larger as the rally time of 6:30 p.m. grew nearer. A mix of music played in the arena ranging from Celine Dion to the Village People.
According to a New York Times reporter who says she has been to about 10 of the Trump rallies, the president handpicks all of the music that plays before and during the rallies.
After saying the pledge and a national anthem sing-along, Congressman Billy Long, R-Springfield, took the stage to rev up the crowd just after 5:30 p.m.
Long gained national notoriety a few weeks ago when protestors interrupted a committee hearing. Long, an auctioneer by trade, began “auctioning” off a protestor’s cellphone.
Long even gave the crowd a small sample of his auctioneering skills while touting Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley.
After a speech by Erin Hawley, a Guns n’ Roses song was cranked at an almost uncomfortable level as more and more people were shuffled onto the standing space on the floor, but many kept their seats in the lower bowl just feet from the elevated podium.
The entire event was well-orchestrated for full optic value. It seems as though every person in attendance was handed an 11- by 16- inch sign as they came in the door.
Red, white, blue and even pink messages of “Drain the Swamp,” “Trump Pence,” “Women for Trump” and the new Trump slogan, “Keep America Great,” waved back and forth to the rhythm of the music.
At first it seemed there would be empty seats in the upper deck of the oval-shaped arena where basketball is the most common spectator sport, but before the president entered, all of the seats were filled.
Trump finally appeared about 10 minutes late and strutted down the long platform giving his trademark thumbs up and returning the applause while mouthing “thank you” to the Lee Greenwood tune “Proud to Be an American.”
Trump spoke for a few minutes about himself, then turned his remarks to U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who then spoke for about 10 minutes hitting all of the bullet points of his campaign literature.
Trump again took the podium and sang his own praises touching on topics including the economy, North Korea, the Supreme Court and anything else he could think of for the next hour.
In fact, toward the end of the speech and his voice grew louder and louder, it seemed many in attendance were beginning to lose interest. Then the president would rattle off another buzz word and the signs would again wave from side to side with renewed vigor.
When Trump finished his speech he closed with “God Bless America” and the crowd roared with approval as he slowly made his way back down the T-shaped elevated stage and exited behind a huge American flag.
As soon as the president was out of sight, the crowds made dashes for the exits.
Spilling out into the parking lots, the crowd moved through carefully controlled pathways lined with law enforcement.
Because of the extra security needed, many of the sidewalks had been closed off and 18-wheelers and dump trucks were parked close together, almost touching, to create temporary walls and barricades, restricting movement.
Whether you are a fan of Trump, or hate everything he stands for, the spectacle of these rallies is certainly something, not sure what, but something.