Alert “06880” reader/photographer JP Vellotti is an equal-opportunity political rally-goer.
On Saturday night, he attended the Donald Trump rally at Sacred Heart University. Afterward, he sent photos and a report to “06880.”
Here’s Part 2 of his journey to Election Day:
There was a lot to process after the Trump event. Having never been to a political function, I wondered if his rally was a normal state of affairs.
The next day I checked out Hillary’s website, to see if she had any events planned nearby (other than the $34,000-per-person dinner in Greenwich).
To my surprise, there was an event Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I clicked the link, and got a ticket. I don’t have $34K, but I do have enough for a tank of gas.
At 5:30 a.m., I headed 150 miles west on I-84. It’s a nice drive. I was early, but that helped me get a great spot close to the stage.
The same type of vendors were there as at the Trump rally, selling pins, hats and t-shirts. They seem to be price-fixed, no matter which party (all overpriced and low quality). Bernie Sanders merchandise was marked way down.
There were about the same number of protesters in the parking lot — all peaceful. I’m not quite sure what the people with the giant inflatable spliff were protesting (or supporting).
It was really interesting to see both sides. I don’t think a lot of people can say they did that, especially in a 48-hour span.
I’d be interested to hear what Hillary said at the $34K event, versus this free one in Scranton. I especially wonder how she can tell the people of Scranton certain things will be done with money that comes in from the wealthiest 1% paying their fair share of taxes.
I imagine some of that 1% paid to see her in Greenwich. Are they ok with her plan? Maybe she laid it out in greater detail during the dinner? I’ll never know.
Unlike the Trump event, there were no vulgar t-shirts or pins — or chants of the same, from the crowd or candidate.
The arena was much larger, but it was closed off to nearly the same size as the SHU Pitt Center. Both events were hot, but nothing beats the Trump rally heat.
Hillary’s event had a live, local coffee shop-type band. They played mellow songs like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” then funk like “Superstition” and “ABC.” They did not repeat anything.
The Trump rally blasted mostly the Rolling Stones (who asked him to stop using their songs) and Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” (an odd choice). His playlist repeated 3 times, and the crowd noticed. He also had an opera tune in the mix.
The crowds were almost equal in size — about 5,000. The demographics were again very similar — a bit younger in Scranton, predominantly white, but with more outward signs of diversity (buttons, pins, hats for various causes).
Much of the same speeches from both sides were snippets from the primaries. The Scranton one had a bit of hometown flavor, because of Hillary’s and Joe Biden’s roots there. Both told funny anecdotes.
Biden was a dynamic speaker. He made his speech feel personal, like your uncle was telling you something important. He also gave direct facts and statistics about consequences of things like dismantling NATO. He said he was off to Kosovo immediately after the rally, to assure them of America’s support.
I thought the talk in Scranton would be more about factory workers and old mills. Not at all. There was no relishing in the past for the American worker, which is the sense I got from Trump’s speech.
Hillary outlined her agenda at a high level. There was no badgering of the press, no name calling, and no Democratic version of “Lock her up!” She did wonder if Trump will ever release his tax returns.
Both Clinton and Biden came to the front row, and worked the crowd for a very long time. I was amazed at how close I could get. I believe Trump left as soon as he was finished, but I couldn’t see that side of the stage so I don’t know for sure.
After the event, I walked over to Sonic to get something to eat. I met an 83-year-old Korean War vet named Daniel. He had been undecided, but will now vote for Hillary.
I bought him lunch, thanked him for serving our country decades before I was born. And then it was back on I-80, to Westport. Without a limo.