IOWA CITY — Just a few feet apart outside the Iowa Field House on Tuesday night were these two distinctly separate chants:
“Dump Trump before he dumps what’s right!”
“Let’s bomb the (expletive deleted) out of ISIS!”
The former was a group of almost 50 protesters representing NARAL Pro-Choice America. The latter was a single entrepreneur, who was selling “Make America Great Again” ball caps for $20 and buttons sporting slogans that included his ISIS “Hillary for Prison — 2016” for five bucks.
Then there were those who were here just because it was a scene.
“I’m a casual observer watching the show,” said a man who requested anonymity. “I’m a Jeb Bush supporter.”
Ben Seger of Marion, a UI business student, wore a Trump cap and T-shirt, and had a sign in support of the candidate.
“I like that he’s not funded by Wall Street,” Seger said, “even though that’s where I hope to end up.
“I just like that he’s outspoken and says what’s on his mind. … He knows how to move people.”
As he was about to enter the Field House, Iowa City West High School junior Nick Niehus displayed a sign that read “We Are Just Here For Extra Credit.”
Niehus said he would get that extra credit in his economics class for attending the event.
“I don’t want to be seen as a Trump supporter,” he said. “I want to be seen as a Democrat.”
It wasn’t just students here, though. Ron George, 69, of Keswick, is a Trump backer.
“All the major candidates have had a chance to do something in Washington, and they’re not getting anything done,” George said. “Trump, to me, seems like a guy who will negotiate some agreements and do the job for people, not just himself.”
Athletes take part
Several Iowa Hawkeye football players attended, including quarterback C.J. Beathard. Before Trump appeared, the players were brought onto the stage and tossed Trump’s “Make America Great Again” caps into the crowd.
One of the players, Peter Pekar of Greendale, Wis., spoke briefly to the gathering. He encouraged people to “Vote Trump.” He then held up a black-and-gold football jersey with a No. 1 and Trump’s name on the back.
The players were called to the stage by Trump almost immediately after he arrived at the event. Moments later, he was joined by seven Hawkeye wrestlers.
A “Let’s Go, Hawks!” chant briefly broke out. Trump didn’t seem to mind, but moments later he was alone on stage with all the focus on him.
“Iowa needs a win,” Trump said in his address to the crowd. He was talking about picking a Republican nominee, not the wrestlers.