Flags, chants and badges at Trump’s first post-presidential rally

The former president’s supporters gathered in force in a small rural county in Ohio

The sedans and pick-up trucks, many of them flying Trump 2024 signs, queued from early afternoon along the roads leading into Lorain County fairgrounds.

The small rural county an hour's drive south of Cleveland, Ohio, was the kind of midwest majority-white district that swung behind Donald Trump in 2016, delivering him his surprise election victory against Hillary Clinton.

On Saturday his fans were out on force, some of whom had come from as far as Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee to catch a glimpse of the former president.

The evening event was Trump's first post-presidential rally since he retreated to Florida and most recently his golf course in New Jersey after losing the White House in November.


Rena Gregg (82) from Ashland, Ohio, said she had come to show her support for the former president. "I've always liked President Trump because I like his values. I'm against abortion and I believe in the right to have my own gun. He believes in the constitution."

Sporting a “Trump chick” badge and a USA hat, she said she believed November’s election was fraudulent. “I mean, come on, look at the crowds here – Biden could only get a few hundred.”

Also in attendance was Chris Ischay and his nine-year old son Jake. Wearing a T-shirt with the words "God, Guns & Trump", Ischay said he was concerned about the election process, and believed there were widespread irregularities in last year's election.

“You can’t get into a government building without an ID, so why should you be able to vote without an ID? How is that racist? It’s just stupid,” he said.

Nine-year old Jake, who was wearing a red Trump hat and waving a giant “Trump 2024” flag, said he was excited to be at his first rally.

The event had the feel of a campaign rally. Music blared from the sound system, churning out some of the Trump-rally favourites such as Macho Man, '80s rock-classic Gloria and a catalogue of Elton John hits.

Supporters queued up for pizza or ice-cream under the hot afternoon sun, as a plane with the sign “Ohio is Trump country” whirred overhead.

Merchandise was on sale across the site, and supporters were decked out in an array of Trump T-shirts, with statements such as “Hell yeah! I voted for Trump,” “Protect the Second Amendment” and “Trump 2024”.

Official events began around two hours before Trump came on stage, with a prayer from a local minister and the citing of the pledge of allegiance.

Local Ohio congressman Jim Jordan extolled Trump's policies while in office, such as his appointments of supreme court justices, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

“No one has proven more that he can stand up to his swamp ... That’s why we all want him to run in 2024 and be president again in January 2025!” he said to cheers.

High-profile supporters such as the chief executive of My Pillow, Mike Lindell, mingled with the crowd posing for selfies with fans, while Marjorie Taylor Greene whipped up the audience before Trump's arrival. The controversial congresswoman from Georgia and keeper of the Maga flame in Congress elicited one of the biggest reactions of the night when she called for coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci to be fired.

“Lock him up! Lock him up!” chanted the crowd.

Giant screens

By the time Trump took to the stage almost an hour late the crowd was still patient, though a chant briefly broke out complaining that the president could not be seen on the giant screens framing the “Save America” stage.

Soon all was forgiven as Trump launched into one of his familiar stump speeches, hitting on themes like immigration, “fake news” and false allegations that November’s election was stolen.

He was clear that he aims to take down any Republican who voted to impeach him by supporting alternative candidates in next year's mid-term elections as he continues to play the role of kingmaker in the Republican Party. But on the question that most of his supporters want answered – will he run again for president? – he refused to commit.