Saturday, August 17, 2019

Trump Rally @ SNHU Arena

There are some things I've done in life, but will never do again, things like touch a hot stove, bite into a ghost pepper, and attend a Donald Trump Rally.

As part of my effort to video every presidential candidate who visits New Hampshire, I filed for press credentials for the Trump rally in Manchester.  When they came through, I was in Maine with my wife for R&R.  I realized that I might not be able to make the event.  It would require leaving earlier than we had planned. It would be tight, but thanks to a wonderful, understanding, and supportive wife we headed back home right after breakfast.

When I got home I began to gather my gear. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I packed accordingly. I had the studio camera and tripod that I would set up in the press area. I had my personal camera to get shots of the crowd inside and out. I also packed an extra cell phone, iPad, two small tripods, and a mono-pod, along with a small hand cart for easy transport. Contained therein where a half-dozen mistakes.

I've covered about a dozen candidates and each one was a relaxed, simple check in. They were easy to easy set up and shot. This would be different. As a novice to a high security shoot, I soon learned about my newbie mistakes.

After parking the car, I loaded up my gear and walk the block and a half to the arena. Unfortunately, pre-setup was from 10:00-12:00 and I missed it by 2 minutes. That meant  that  I had to wait until 2:30 to set up.  So it was a block-and-a-half back to the parking lot, where I put the gear back in the car.

I grabbed my smaller camera, and decided to spend some time filming the crowd that was already forming in front of the arena.  As I took shots, I spoke with a few folks. There was no doubt of their support, love and admiration of Donald Trump. At no time did I have cause for concern. If they considered us fake news reporters, it did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm to get in front of the camera.

As 2:30 rolled around, it was time to get my credentials and set up. I packed everything back up again and headed to the back of the building for press check in. There were about 100 members of the press waiting to get in. Most had already been set up inside, and just had to go through a typical TSA body scan.

The rest of us had to put all of our equipment on the lawn, start all of our electronics, and then do the body scan. While all of this was going on, there was security with bomb-sniffing dogs checking the bags and the vans in the press area. I took out my cell phone and began filming, which I quickly learned was a no-no.

Armed with my credentials, I loaded everything back up on my cart and headed to the inside press area to set up on the risers. It wasn't long before I realized that going down about 50 stadium steps with a cart full of equipment was not going to work.

Putting the backpack on, I threw 1 camera bag over my shoulder, the tripod case over my other shoulder, grabbed the other tripod in my left hand, and the handcart in my right. Navigating the 50 steps wasn't fun at 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew repeating it going up the steps at 9 at night with about 12,000 people trying to get out of the arena was going to be even less fun.

When I reached the camera risers, I saw that pretty much every spot was already filled, but there was one open prime spot left in the second row from the front. I asked the staffer if I could set up there. He said it was reserved for networks that had correspondence with them. He asked if I had a correspondent and I said that I had one coming. I didn't, but it was still a few hours before things would start, and I figured I would take my chances.

I set up right next to Fox and pointed the camera to the gap between the White House camera and the Press pool camera that we're set up directly in front of me.

Once I was set up, chatting with the folks around me. Keiko Hiromi , a freelance photo journalist, was only about 5 feet tall. I invited her to stand in front of me because she was small enough to not block the camera, and I jokingly told her she was my correspondent.

As the arena filled, there were there or four platforms set up for photographers.  Every time one of them pointed to an area of the audience, the entire section reacted with sign waving and cheers.
As we drew closer 2 event time music became louder. To say the least, the choice of music was interesting, especially YMCA. At times, it was so loud that the bass would actually cause the camera platform to bounce in time with the beat. I had the volume input turned all the way down on my camera, but the meter was still redlining. In the second part of this video you'll notice the bounce and the focus going in and out because of the music and bouncing platform. When it was time for the president to arrive, the lights in the arena began changing with the music and the only thing missing we're pyrotechnics.

 


As Trump made his way to the stage, the crowd went wild and gave him a full 5+ minute ovation.
The rest of the night went pretty much as I had envisioned, but the noise intensity, and fervor of the crowd was something that one must experience to appreciate. His talking points, name calling, and had been heard by everyone in the room, but the crowd responded to each one with deafening approval.

When he started talking about the fake news, he pointed to us and said, "Look at all of them" and 12,000 heads turned toward us and booed. As I looked around the room, it was obvious that many were just having fun, but others were less than jovial as they flipped the finger in our direction. One woman, wearing a CNN shirt which had the Soviet hammer and sickle as the C, spent a good part of the night standing right in front of us in her personal Tienanmen Square moment. Serious or jovial, they were all being controlled by the master puppeteer on stage.

The only thing new to me and this crowd were the banners around the stadium reading, Keep America Great, a prelude to an audience poll to determine if it should replaced Make America Great Again. The NH audience endorsed it wholeheartedly. You can watch the full hour and twenty-eight minute speech on RCTV's Streaming channel by clicking the image below.

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When it over, I packed my gear and began to head to the exit with 12,000 people who had not long ago booed me and the other press representatives. I was very pleasantly surprised at the number of people who stopped to let me pass or even stopped others to let me through. It reminded me that we are all in this together and have to make it our job to heal the divide.


2 comments:

  1. Art: thank you for taking the time (and making the sacrifice to cut short vacation trip) to share this with us. it's what i think is great about living in New Hampshire, that we get to see the candidates from both parties early in the process. thank you. ... dana

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