FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The crowd, clad in "Make America Great Again" hats and waving signs emblazoned with slogans—"Finish the Wall," "Drain the Swamp," and "Jobs Not Mobs"—roared with enthusiasm as the 45th president of the United States entered the arena.
Many had braved the Midwest autumn for hours in front of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne for the chance to watch President Donald Trump lay out his closing argument of the 2018 election campaign on Monday night.
Recent Stories in Politics
Tackling subjects far and wide, including the economy, immigration, and the Kavanaugh hearings, among others, the president did not disappoint.
"This election is about safety and this election is about jobs," Trump said. "For years you've watched as we let foreign countries plunder our wealth, shutter our factories, and steal our jobs, but those days are over."
The audience, estimated to be 13,000 strong, erupted in chants of "USA."
Urging those in attendance to get out and vote on Election Day, Trump warned that no one should take the threat of Democratic majorities in Congress lightly.
"Everything we have achieved is at stake," he said. "They can take it apart just as fast as we built it.… If the radical Democrats take power they will take a wrecking ball to our economy and the future of our country."
"When you enter the voting booth on Tuesday you will be making a simple choice—a vote for Republicans is a vote to continue our extraordinary prosperity," he said. "A vote for Democrats is a vote to bring this economic boom crashing down very rapidly. The Democratic agenda will deliver a socialist nightmare; the Republican agenda is delivering the American dream."
Joining the president on stage at various times were Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Mike Braun, the Republican vying to unseat incumbent Democratic senator Joe Donnelly.
Trump's visit to Fort Wayne, his second to the Hoosier State in less than a week, occurred as polls show Braun running neck-and-neck with Donnelly. The president, who carried Indiana by 19 percentage points in 2016, has made a concerted effort to push Braun over the finish line.
While discussing the race, Trump urged voters to not fall for the rhetoric emanating from Donnelly's campaign seeking to portray the senator as a conservative Democrat who can work with those across the aisle.
"He's gone rogue on the Democrats, he's gone rogue because now he likes Trump a lot," the president said. "He loves my border policy … and all of a sudden he's talking about what we’ve been talking about."
"Here's the problem, there's one problem, we'll have the election tomorrow and on Wednesday he'll be totally against us," Trump said. "He'll never vote for us, he will never ever vote for us, that's the problem."
"We'll never get a vote from Joe Donnelly," Trump repeated as chants of "Joe must go" erupted from the rafters.
The criticism of Donnelly underscores how nationalized Indiana's Senate race has become.
Braun, a businessman who previously served in the state house of representatives, has presented himself as an extension of the president by promising, if elected, to be a reliable vote for the Trump agenda.
Braun told the crowd—which greeted him with shouts of "We love you Mike"—that he was running to help the president "shake up Washington."
"We finally got an opportunity," the candidate said. "We need more reinforcements from the real world, people that have done something. You're going to see in the next two years once the president gets re-elected there are going to be more people like me running for office."
Donnelly, on the other hand, has strived to bolster his standing in the heavily Republican state without antagonizing his base. To that degree, Donnelly has lent his support to the president's steel tariffs but has voted against the administration's tax cuts package and Kavanaugh's confirmation, among other initiatives.
On Monday, Trump reminded Indiana voters just how far he and the senator diverged.
"Remember Joe Donnelly voted against your tax cuts and he joined the Democrat mob in voting against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite what he's saying this week, it happened."
One rally-goer, Jay Krush, who previously voted for Donnelly in 2012 but plans to support Braun this year, told the Washington Free Beacon he felt pushed to the decision by the Democrats' treatment of Kavanaugh.
"It struck a chord," Krush said. "I haven't been happy with Sen. Donnelly for some time. I was probably going to vote against him this year, but the Kavanaugh stuff sealed it for me."
Other attendees expressed a similar sentiment, most notably when the president touched on the topic in his speech.
"We overcame the Democrats' smear campaign and confirmed the newest member of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh," Trump said. "Just in case if you haven't seen it, one of his accusers came out on Friday and said she never met him and he didn't do the horrible thing she said. She never met, it didn't happen, she was lying.… It was a false accusation … a disgrace."
"Think of that, this woman came out and said she made up the story," Trump added as "boos" and shouts of "Lock her up" arose from across the arena.
Since the Kavanaugh confirmation, polls have shown Republican enthusiasm surging. In his remarks, the president expressed his feeling that momentum was on the GOP's side heading into Election Day.
"Something's going on folks, something's going on," Trump said. "Maybe I'm wrong, but there was something going on two years ago, something going on and I felt it—and I feel it again."
The president, however, said it would take a lot of effort from everyone involved to ensure that feeling became a reality.
"Together we have made extraordinary progress," Trump said. "And we are just getting started…. This is the greatest political movement in the history of our country."
"I am asking every citizen from every party, every background, and every race, color, and creed to reject the Democratic politics of anger and division and to unite behind our proud and righteous destiny as Americans," he added. "I need you to get your family, get your friends, get your neighbors, get your coworkers and go out and vote for … Republicans at every level of government."