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Local

Trumpmania at bus tour

Surrogates of Team Trump rally supporters in Newton

Representatives of “Team Trump,” who have been touring around Iowa in a red bus this past week, believe the president’s recorded interview with journalist Bob Woodward — in which Donald Trump admits to playing down the seriousness of the coronavirus — will not affect his chances of getting re-elected this year.

Erin Perrine, director of press communications for the Trump campaign, told Newton News Americans are focused on who will fight for them and who will make sure they are provided an opportunity of a future. Perrine further lambasted Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” calling it a clear “political hit job.”

“This is just another media political hit job against the president,” Perrine said.

Per Woodward’s website, “Rage” takes a behind the scenes look at the Trump administration and the president’s decisions during a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. A number of audio clips from the 18 interviews used in the book were later released to the press and saw widespread circulation.

On Sept. 10, none of that mattered in Newton. Other than acknowledging the coronavirus comments in an interview with Newton News, the surrogates of Team Trump did not mention Woodward’s name nor his talks with the president. Instead, Trump’s surrogates were met with cheers.

Accompanying Perrine were Eric Branstad, senior advisor for the Trump 2020 campaign in Iowa; Penny Nance of the Women for Trump Advisory Board; Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union; and Matt Whitaker, former acting U.S. Attorney General. They received a warm welcome from supporters.

Led by Republican candidate Jon Dunwell, Trump supporters lined up outside their headquarters on the town square. “Four! More! Years!” they chanted. Dunwell, copying his president’s habits, yelled, “Hidin’ Joe Biden!” to the person who seemingly walked outside Rep. Wes Breckenridge’s office to snap a photo.

Preya Samsumdar, spokesperson for Trump Victory in Minnesota, said the goal of the bus tour was to remind constituents of their presence. Being able to travel from community to community and listen to voters’ thoughts about what the president is doing and what they would live to see is valuable to the campaign.

“We want them to know we hear them and that we want to be their voice in Washington and, really, just across the country,” she said. “We believe elections are so important and we believe it’s important that if we’re asking you to vote for us and vote for President Trump that you hear from us.”

Passersby honked in full support, rallying the crowd to cheer even louder. “It’s a comin’,” Dunwell shouted as the bus slowly made its way into the heart of downtown Newton. The surrogates onboard the vessel recalled hearing the chants and honks the entire way down. “So much enthusiasm,” Nance said.

Branstad suggested the energy between the bus tour and the prior boat parade at Saylorville Lake has been “unreal.” It’s pure, organic energy, he said. Branstad also said he doesn’t “see anything” in the Biden campaign. Perrine said if Biden “wants to run the Hillary Clinton playbook, he should expect the same results.”

To Perrine’s point, Biden has not made a return visit to Newton since his campaign stops in August 2019 and January 2020. (His wife, Jill Biden, also held a campaign appearance.) However, it’s important to note the president himself was not onboard the Team Trump tour bus last week.

She added, “If you’re not going to talk to voters (and) if you’re going to take them for granted, you should expect to have the outcome Hillary Clinton had, which is: she lost … It’s such a big election. We thought 2016 was a big election. It was. There’s so much more at stake right now in 2020 than there was then.”

Team Trump’s surrogates lended their voices of support to Jasper County voters, oftentimes dishing out criticisms of Democrats and singing the praises of the president. Branstad said he wakes up at night feeling scared of a Biden presidency, but told Trump he would work tirelessly to win Iowa in November.

Since buying a new car in June, Branstad said he has already put 8,000 miles on it by just traveling to Trump events. He’s called, too. From the calls Branstad has been making lately, Iowa mothers want Trump as their president “because they need law and order” for the “health and safety” of their kids — somehow.

Perrine almost immediately began her speech with namedrops to rile the crowd. Names like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (referred as “AOC” by Perrine), Rep. Jerry Nadler and Rep. Adam Schiff — all Democrats. Perrine claimed Biden “is not doing anything other than taking (their) policies and running with them.”

She also attacked Biden for signing on to run on a platform with Sen. Bernie Sanders, seemingly referring to the recommendations the two Democrats made to combating climate change. “Does that represent Iowa?” Perrine asked. The crowd replied with a resounding, “No!”

Trump’s director of press communications also attacked Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s choice for vice-president, for having “more liberal voting record in the senate.” So liberal, she claimed, that it would make Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren “blush.”

Perrine also received positive responses from her mentioning of armed service members, veterans and those in law enforcement; the latter of which she connected to Biden once more for wanting to “redirect funding” in police stations.

Despite all that, Perrine said Trump supporters are in the fight of their lives.

Schlapp reiterated Perrine’s sentiments. “If we don’t win in Iowa, we got big problems,” he said. “And if we got big problems, that means they’re going to do the thing called ‘transforming America,’ which just so you know — my daughter looked it up for me — that means it’s over.”

Basically, Schlapp said, it’s “like starting a new country.” The political contributor of Fox News also suggested the Constitution of the United States would be thrown out for socialism. Schlapp claimed he woke up one day and noticed socialists are “in charge of everything,” though he did not provide any evidence.

Turning to football, which has somehow become a controversial political topic, Schlaap said he would not watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans game. He just wants to “watch people throw and catch the ball” and get his mind “off all this crap.” Last Thursday, the Chiefs and Texans did just that.

Continuing on, Schlapp mentioned the fears of cancel culture and also alleged Democrats want to make it illegal to be a Republican — again, without evidence or reference. Nance said American mothers are being called on in a way they had never been called on before. This is their moment, she said.

Nance recalled when the New York Times asked her how conservative, Evangelical and faithful Catholic women could support Donald Trump. These women, she said, were not looking for a pastor, a priest or a husband. They were looking for a “bodyguard.” Nance also praised Trump for his pro-life stance.

Whitaker, saved for last, probably received the most positive response from the local GOP. His reputation as a former tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes (led by coach Hayden Fry) no doubt worked in his favor. Whitaker remarked those were the “glory years” where teams “played football” and didn’t kneel.

He remembered his short time spent with Trump’s conservative cabinet trying “to address these difficult and challenging issues we face as Americans.” What got him through that time, he said, was the prayers and encouragement from voters. Like his previous speakers, Whitaker said the 2020 election is the most consequential.

“You want to be able to practice your religion, raise your family, sit beneath a tree and enjoy your freedoms — and, you know, as Iowans, maybe shoot off a few fireworks from time to time,” Whitaker said. “This is when we, the American people, need to stand for what we believe.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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