Emilie Maua cried as she watched Donald Trump accept the Republican nomination for president. It was not that her hero had said much of anything new — rather, it was that a dream that once seemed impossible had come to life.
“I’ve been supporting Trump since day one, when nobody believed in him,” she said.
Maua, of St. Paul, was watching Trump’s speech on TV Thursday night at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park, where hundreds of people stopped by over four hours to coalesce around the GOP’s nominee for the White House. It was a place for Trump supporters to bond in a blue-leaning state where Republicans favored Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the March caucuses.
And it was a diverse crowd. Maua emigrated from the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004 and wants a candidate who will end terrorism and promote peace. She’s concerned that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presumptive nominee, has not done enough to stop violence in her native country. She believes Trump cares about everyone, “whatever their race.”
Trump’s focus on ensuring public safety in his acceptance speech appealed to her, as a mother concerned about her children living in a safe environment.
“We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order,” Trump declared in his hour-plus address.
One of the most enthusiastic supporters at the viewing party was Minneapolis resident Merrilyn Downs, who waved an American flag and cheered as Trump spoke. Like Maua, she voiced concern about terrorism.
“He’s worried about our safety. … I’ve been obsessed with the terrorist problem,” she said.
Downs also favored the speech by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, which addressed equal pay and opportunity for women and mothers.
“He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight … right alongside of him,” Ivanka Trump said during her speech to delegates. “As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all.”
Downs became a believer: “Her words seemed like they cared a lot about low-income people.”
People at the party clapped enthusiastically as Trump vowed, “Our plan will put America first.”
Chris Fields, the state GOP’s deputy chairman, said that people are tired of the status quo. The gathering, he said, “is a way to connect with people who are hungry for the same thing — hungry for American leadership and hungry for a return to economic prosperity.”
During the speech, Fields tapped a reporter on the shoulder and noted, “Do you hear this guy? He’s one of us!”
Fields was excited after the speech ended, saying Trump would fight for everyone. “I think Trump knocked it way out of the park,” he said.