Crucial to Donald Trump’s last month landslide victory in the Empire State Republican primary elections was his barnstorming Upstate New York. The maverick Grand Old Party presidential front-runner candidate’s whistle-stopped in Rochester (April 10), Albany (April 11), Rome (April 12), Plattsburgh (April 15), Syracuse (April 16), Watertown (April 16), Poughkeepsie (April 17) and Buffalo (April 18).
The process of my covering Trump’s rally in Syracuse ran smoothly. I requested my media credential as soon as the demonstration’s date was announced by The Donald’s campaign team and it was approved by it the next day. My experience was thus different from that of reporters from The Des Moines Register newspaper, The Huffington Post news site and Fusion television network, who had alleged that their credentials for the former reality television superstar’s events in Iowa and Florida were either denied or revoked.
Needless to say, security was tight at the celebrity billionaire’s rally in Syracuse. All four levels of law enforcement were present: federal, state, county and city. I’m talking about U.S. Secret Service agents, New York State troopers, Onondaga County sheriff deputies, and Syracuse Police Department officers being there. As if all this weren’t enough, Syracuse University Department of Public Safety officers and Securitas private security guards were also at hand.
There was a multi-layered approach in place to protect the founder of Trump University. First, a barrier across the street from the Nicholas Pirro Convention Center, where the demonstration was going to be held. This barrier was secured by Syracuse policemen. Secondly, a media checkpoint, manned by civilians. Next, two metal detectors, staffed by Secret Service agents in uniform. Finally, another barrier, a few feet away from the main stage.
I happened to forget my ID at home and the media check-in people had to call Healy Baumgardner, the senior press representative to the candidate. A blond sharply dressed in a black outfit, she graciously cleared me in after we had a brief talk. With my coveted blue-white-and-red media pass in hand, I proceeded to go through a rectangular metal detector, commonly seen in airports. But this didn’t suffice as a few seconds later a Secret Service agent went through every square inch of my body with a hand-held metal detector. At last, I was able to go to my spot in the designated media area. They were about 80 journalists there, which matched closely the number on a four-page list of accredited personnel of international, national, regional and local media that I had seen at the check-in.
Upon my entrance, Carl Paladino was already addressing the gleeful crowd, which was standing between him and the media. Chanting “U-S-A!” from time to time, many supporters of The Donald were holding up signs saying “The Silent Majority Stands With Trump;” some were wearing T-shirts saying “Build the Wall” or “Hillary Sucks.” They had competition later on when protesters counter-chanted, “Spread love, not hate!” and “The people united will never be defeated!,” to which partisans of the Queens-born presidential candidate answered, “Trump, Trump, Trump!” This response was the authorized signal call for the police to detain and eject the dissidents promptly.
Paladino is a Buffalo developer and honorary co-chair of the New York Leadership Team for the Donald Trump for President Campaign. He pointed to the area where I was and told the audience: “Look at the press behind you. Don’t believe the media line. They are upset and confused because we want Trump.” It was time for me to leave this area. A throng of videographers and photographers was in front of the raised media platform. Hence, I couldn’t see the dais where the former host of the reality TV game show “The Apprentice” would be appearing. I went to the general attendance area.
Then, all of a sudden, the overhead speakers started blasting the certified 6x (six times) Platinum “Space Jam” theme song. It seemed as if the event was going to the next level. The attendees held their placards up high. Again, I couldn’t watch the lectern. I moved to get a better sight. A glowing figure with golden locks took to the podium. He was wearing an impeccable solid red silk Donald Trump Signature Collection necktie, which retails at $59.50 at the boutique. The raucous crowd went electric when the
Manhattan-based businessman with a flashy lifestyle and brash oratory began working his consummate showmanship.
About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).