Indeed, although there were carloads of Trump supporters as far as one could see, and many more on the way from Ohio and West Virginia, and this enormous political event was happening less than two weeks before the presidential election, as far as I could tell, I was the only newsperson there.
It was the biggest political rally no one saw. And gatherings like it have been happening for months in some of the places President Trump needs most to win if he is to be reelected. And, remarkably, the rallies are not the work of the Trump campaign. The road rally in Washington, Pennsylvania, was organized and staged by local Trump supporters, linked together largely by Facebook, who want to show that enthusiasm for the president in western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas is not just strong but stronger than it was when Trump eked out a victory in Pennsylvania in 2016. If Trump wins this critical state, it will owe in significant part to this organic movement and the energetic organizers who have nothing to do with his campaign.
Saturday’s rally started in St. Clairsville, Ohio, in the parking lot of a store called Oil & Gas Safety Supply. After hundreds of cars, probably the majority were pickup trucks, lined up there, they became a rolling rally headed east on I-70 to Wheeling, West Virginia, about 12 miles away. There, hundreds more cars were waiting to join, and the much bigger rally returned to the freeway for the 30-mile drive to Washington.