BELMONT, Wis. — Belmont Convention Center on Saturday welcomed waves of area residents with American flags, “Keep America Great” hats and signs supporting President Donald Trump.
The First Wisconsin Rally was sponsored by area county Republican organizations, including those of Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties.
Speakers included a lineup of Republican legislators and candidates that stressed the importance of supporting Trump and the GOP in the Nov. 3 election.
“Right now, quite honestly, we’re on the defense,” said Wisconsin Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, during his speech. “It’s so important that we keep the majorities in the assemblies and in the Senate.”
Attendees — many sporting outfits of red, white and blue — frequently cheered or shouted in agreement with speakers throughout the day. The center was sectioned off into a mask-only seating area and an area for those without, a choice many speakers praised.
Former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy was the event’s keynote speaker and received a standing ovation both before and after he spoke.
“If Trump wins Wisconsin, Trump wins America. We matter,” he said to open his speech, a reference to the state’s battleground status.
Duffy spoke at length about the work Trump has done so far, including how he “saved the day” when he brought in the National Guard during protests in Kenosha, Wis., after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a police officer.
He also expressed excitement for Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump officially nominated Saturday to fill an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court caused by the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The fact that this would mark Trump’s third appointment of a Supreme Court Justice elicited cheers from the crowd.
In order to preserve Trump’s legacy, Duffy emphasized the importance of voting against Democratic candidates and supporting the president.
“As history will be written, we will not be noted that we sat here at this convention ... but history will note if we saved America,” Duffy said. “No president has done more for this country than this president has for us.”
John Aagaard, who came from Mount Horeb to attend the event, said Duffy’s speech was his favorite of the morning.
“We’re here to show support for (Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District candidate) Pete Theron and, of course, support the president,” he said. “We’re here to listen to everybody.”
Speakers such as Wisconsin Reps. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, and Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, also spoke about the successes of former Gov. Scott Walker and how a Republican-majority statehouse has helped stop Gov. Tony Evers from passing tax increases and other measures. Walker narrowly lost the governor’s seat to Evers in the 2018 election.
“Get out and vote, and vote all the way down the ballot, because everyone needs you,” Novak said.