Donald Trump returned to Arizona Friday as part of a last-minute blitz across the U.S. in support of vulnerable Republican candidates.
The hallmark "Make America Great Again” rally on Friday evening was peppered with insults against Democrats and focused on one of the defining issues of his 2016 Presidential campaign — immigration.
"America is booming, America is thriving and America is winning because we are finally putting America first," he said to the crowd of thousands of people.
The rally comes as midterm elections are less than three weeks away, with both parties in a high-stakes match for control of Congress.
At around 5:30 p.m on Friday, surrogates for Trump including Secretary of State candidate Steve Gaynor, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and Gov. Doug Ducey made opening remarks welcoming the President.
Ducey also took a jab at Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is slated to visit ASU and UA next week to campaign for gubernatorial candidate and ASU associate professor David Garcia.
“It is my honor to welcome to Arizona the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump — that’s who we have here,” Ducey said. "So who do the Democrats have here in Arizona?
“None other than Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders. Can you believe it? These guys are actually proud to stand with Bernie Sanders," the governor said.
Trump praised a list of Arizona politicians and candidates including Gov. Ducey, but the crowd recoiled at the Republican incumbent and booed him.
Trump deflected the negative response to the governor claiming that the audience was actually saying “doo” for Ducey instead of “boo.”
Supporters lined up as early as the night before to get into the event, with a line stretching around the outside of the International Air Response hangar at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
Prior to Trump hitting the stage, Arizona senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally deplaned Marine One with the President and spoke briefly about why Arizonans needs to turn out.
"Thank you so much President Trump. Thank you for coming to Arizona, and I just wanted to let you know we are not crazy here — unlike what my opponent says, we are not a meth lab of democracy," McSally said. "America is back and Arizona is back thanks to the leadership of Donald Trump and Doug Ducey."
Trump encouraged the crowd to vote for McSally in the November election claiming that it would be the second greatest vote they will ever cast, the first greatest being voting for him.
McSally is currently deadlocked with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in a race to be the first female senator in Arizona. Sinema is a lecturer at ASU in the School of Social Work.
While this was not the first time Trump has been in Arizona, as it has become a regular stop on his “Make America Great Again” rally tours, it was a first for some ASU students who were attending the event.
Chemical engineering senior Chase Smith, who identities as a Libertarian, said this was one of his first political events and that he was grateful that a politician would come to show support for his base.
“I like that he’s coming out,” Smith said. “I think it’s good when politicians come and show their support for their communities, instead of just … staying where they are.”
Smith was among thousands of supporters left waiting in line after the event filled to capacity, but still said he enjoyed seeing Trump land.
Smith, who is the Secretary of the ASU student group College Republicans United but spoke to The State Press as a private individual, said that the visit could spur votes from Trump’s base.
“I think a lot of people are apathetic about politics and then when he comes it makes you think about it more,” Smith said. “There are probably people out there who don’t even know when voting day is because they just don’t think about it and then the President shows up and they’re like ‘you know I ought to look that up.’”
Judah Waxelbaum, chairperson of the Arizona Federation of College Republicans, said that Trump has sparked an interest in politics for many that was not present before.
“I think that Donald Trump has done this amazing thing as a President, and even as a candidate, where politics has become exciting to young people,” Waxelbaum, a political science sophomore, said. “We have never before had this thing where we have more people who want to volunteer than they want to attend meetings and just talk about the news.
“People don’t want to just discuss politics, they want to get involved, they want to make a difference and they want to know they made a difference — they want to see their returns,” he said.
Of course, not everyone was happy about Trump’s visit to the state, with a couple dozen protesters gathering outside the rally with signs calling for impeachment.
Unlike the violence exhibited at last year's rally in Phoenix, though, this event remained relatively peaceful.
Advocacy groups were also quick to decry the visit.
“Ducey and McSally cannot be trusted to represent all Arizonans," said Arizona state youth director for the progressive advocacy group NextGen America, Jalakoi Solomon, in an emailed statement before the rally.
"Their willingness to stand and rally with Donald Trump, who has continuously attacked immigrant communities, encouraged violence against minorities and joked about sexually assaulting women tells young voters that they will not fight for them on the issues they care about," he said.
"This Nov. 6, we will cast our votes for candidates like David Garcia and Kyrsten Sinema who do not celebrate bigotry and hate."