Trump draws tens of thousands to Waco rally, leaves supporters satisfied

Former President Trump said he loved visiting Texas and was excited to make this his first campaign stop for his 2024 bid for the presidency. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Caitlyn Meisner | Copy Editor

Former President Donald Trump held his first official 2024 presidential campaign rally Saturday, and drew tens of thousands of supporters to the Waco Regional Airport.

According to Steven Cheung, former special advisor to Trump and assistant communications director during the early days of his presidency, there were more than 25,000 people in attendance to the rally.

The City of Waco’s website said the campaign was anticipating 15,000 attendees, and a post-event report released by the city said the Fire Marshal’s Office estimated 12,000 to 15,000 in attendance. The police department deferred all questions about the number of attendees to the Trump campaign.

The report said the Waco Police Department did not report any major security incidents. The report also said first responders provided assistance to several heat-related incidents during the event.

Among these tens of thousands, many Baylor students found their way to the Waco airport on Saturday to hear Trump’s speech. One of these students was Wilton, N.Y., sophomore Meg Messitt.

Messitt said this was her first Trump rally and it was a great opportunity to have been able to attend.

“Trump gave an inspiring speech to open up his 2024 presidential candidacy,” Messitt said. “It was great to see so many patriots gather to show their support for President Trump.”

Messitt said before Trump took the stage, she was hoping he would talk about the trials regarding what happened on Jan. 6, 2021. She said she was glad he mentioned the Tucker Carlson tapes that were released earlier this month, which showed the “provable lies the fake news media” has been perpetrating.

Jacob Chansley [was] sentenced to prison and labeled as the most prominent symbol of a violent insurrection,” Messitt said. “Almost the entirety of his time spent inside of the nation’s Capitol … [he] gives thanks to the officers through prayer on the floor of the Senate. … President Trump said it best during his speech: ‘The weaponization of our justice system is not, as some have called it, a political spectacle. This is the central issue of our time.'”

Memphis, Tenn., sophomore Margaret Couloubaritsis attended the rally with Messitt and said out of the three others she’s attended, this was the best Trump rally.

Couloubaritsis said her and Messitt were able to sit in a special section with Trump’s invited guests, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congressmen Matt Gaetz, Roger Williams and Wesley Hunt.

“We were literally five rows away from Trump,” Couloubaritsis said. “I was getting to meet a ton of political figures and it was super rewarding to meet all these people who I’ve seen on TV and who hold really high positions.”

Couloubaritsis said it was evident how thankful Trump was to see the amount of support in Waco. She said since she was so close to the stage, she could see the emotion in Trump’s face.

“When we were signing the national anthem, I got as close as I possibly could … right next to the Secret Service,” Couloubaritsis said. “I could see Trump’s eyelashes, and I just saw his eyes tearing up when he was looking at how many people were there.”

Queen Creek, Ariz., junior Ashley Dohlman said she was able to sit in the sections directly behind President Trump, which was a new experience for her. She said she knew volunteers at the event, which is how she was able to sit in that section.

Dohlman said she was glad Trump talked about the border crisis.

“Texas and Arizona are both on the border, and as someone who grew up in a border state and now goes to college in one, I’m most glad he talked about this,” Dohlman said. “It’s a big issue and not focused on enough.”

Dohlman also said she was glad Trump promised to strengthen his position on the border.

“He’s continuing to put America and American’s safety first,” Dohlman said.

She said she was also satisfied he mentioned inflation because it’s a bipartisan issue and impacts all Americans.

“No matter who you are or what side of the aisle you’re on, inflation is affecting you,” Dohlman said. “It should be bipartisan, and the way he spoke about it made it bipartisan.”