Trump in Denver: What he said and who was there

Donald Trump is expected to speak late Saturday, Nov. 5, to a crowd of thousands at the National Western Complex, following a day of events in Florida, North Carolina and Nevada.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Nov. 5, 2016 at the Denver Coliseum. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Nov. 5, 2016 at the Denver Coliseum. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Donald Trump took the stage at the National Western Complex at 10:30 p.m. Saturday before a crowd of thousands.

“We are going to win Colorado,” he assured them. The country, he said, “is not going to be divided for long.” And he urged people to take their ballots directly to voting centers, since it is now too late to mail them.

Earlier, he had questioned the sanctity of Colorado’s vote-by-mail system.

The Denver Coliseum was nearly full, with a packed floor and most of the available seats occupied. The event began with a series of Latino speakers, including two people who were described as legal immigrants.

This was Trump’s fourth event of the day, following events in Florida, North Carolina and Nevada. “New York time, this is now 1 o’clock in the morning,” he said, raising his wrist for dramatic effect.

The speech ended at 11:20 p.m. MST, about 50 minutes after it began, to several minutes of whistling, cheers and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Trump touched on several Colorado topics, citing the departure of jobs in Aurora and Thornton, and later referring to the 2005 murder of Donnie Young, a Denver police detective, by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

Signs for “Women for Trump” and “Hispanics for Trump” were dotted among the canopy of “Make America Great Again” and “Trump-Pence” messaging.

The crowd rallied with the usual chants – “lock her up” and “USA” were popular, and I’m pretty sure I spotted tween Trump star Weston Imer leading a call to “build that wall.” Some of the heartiest boos, though, were reserved for “the media,” for whom the crowd briefly prayed at one speaker’s request.

At the event hall, Patti Noell, 65, said she’s firmly anti-Clinton, citing Benghazi as the reason she believed that the Democrat would fail the military. But she only came around to Trump in the last few days of the race, she said, as she “examined the issues.” She shares some of Trump’s stated worries that the election won’t be fairly counted.

“It was so off the wall,” she said of the 2012 election. Saturday’s rally was a chance to witness “history in the making,” she said.

Seeing Trump directly was a way to avoid “the way that the media sways it,” said Jessica Goodwin, 40.

Mike Mathieson, 48, remains an undecided voter. He is being drawn in two directions by the issues most important to him: Immigration and trade.

“I’ve got a lot of workers who have lived here since they were 4, 5, 6 years old. They’re as American as you and I,” said Mathieson, who works in development and construction. That issue pulls him toward the Democrats, he acknowledged.

Yet at the same time, he said, he believes that Trump would do more to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

“He’ll do something to make those trade agreements and tariffs fair,” he said.

Christine Coleman, an immigrant from Rwanda, stood on a set of risers almost directly behind Trump, along with her sister, Chantar Sundberg. She said she had supported Trump since he won the primary.

“I am a truth lover … I am conservative. I support life,” she said after the rally. “… What made me come out is how I saw he was being attacked.”

The state of the race:

Recent polls in Colorado have ranged anywhere from a tie to a 6-point advantage for Clinton. As with the rest of the nation, FiveThirtyEight favors Clinton to win, but her predicted chances of victory have declined sharply in the final days of the race, standing at about 73 percent in Colorado.

Early voting results aren’t giving much of a hint of who will win, either. Just about equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans have returned ballots in Colorado so far – 595,767 Democratic voters versus 597,194 Republican voters, according to Magellan Strategies – which means that that the independents, who have filed 474,733 ballots so far, will have a lot of say in this thing.

Earlier in the week, vandals painted a somewhat obscene message on Trump’s Colorado headquarters in Denver, and a young man was arrested on suspicion he had thrown a rock at the building.