Several thousand supporters of President Donald Trump, including former Democrats, lined up outside Missoula International Airport Thursday morning, hoping to grab a seat for tonight’s Make America Great Again rally.
At the front of the line were Craig Harms of Hamilton and Ron Embree of Sula. The two ardent Trump supporters left home before sunrise to beat the morning rush to queue up for the 6:30 p.m. rally.
“He’s changing the country – he’s making America great again,” said Embree. “He’s brought down taxes, he’s got employment coming back, he’s got jobs back, and he’s building the wall. He’s doing what we need to do in this country to get rid of all this stuff Obama did illegally.”
Traffic was steady throughout the morning as the president’s supporters rolled in from around the region, including Idaho and Washington. The U.S. Secret Service observed the crowd and law enforcement from Missoula, Ravalli and Lewis and Clark counties kept a visible presence.
Shuttles to Minuteman Aviation are set to begin this afternoon, where gates open at 3:30 p.m.
“I can’t imagine that in my lifetime the Democratic Party will ever change enough for me to consider going back,” said Brigitte Bellefeur.
“It’s the hypocrisy, the never-ending notice of what Trump does wrong – and he does do some things wrong,” she said. “But it’s a complete disregard for what’s happened in the Democratic Party in the past that’s been equally as bad, equally as corrupt and equally as deceitful.”
Meanwhile, on hillsides overlooking Missoula protesters unfurled a pair of signs intended to register their disdain for the president and his actions.
Missoula’s North Hills began the day with sheets spelling out “Dump Trump,” although those were later collected into piles so the message was disassembled.
On Mount Jumbo, a group of Missoula women brought letters to – with help from the mountain’s signature “L” – spell out LIAR in right, white and blue. That group intended to stay on the mountain, holding the message until Air Force One passed by this evening.
The White House Press Office sent out the president’s schedule early Thursday, showing the plan for his arrival and departure in Missoula.
Trump is scheduled to leave Joint Base Andrews just outside the nation’s capital at 3:45 pm. Eastern time, arriving at Missoula International Airport at 6:10 p.m. Mountain time.
He’s due to arrive at the Minuteman Aviation hangar at 6:25 p.m. for what the White House billed a Make America Great Again rally, remaining there until 8:05 p.m.
The president will fly from Missoula to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he’ll spend the night and host another campaign rally on Friday.
Watch for frequent updates to this story throughout the day and evening.