About 125 people showed their support for Donald Trump at a rally Saturday in Acacia Park about an hour after about twice as many people marched through downtown Colorado Springs demanding the president release his tax returns.
Organized by the El Paso County Republican Party, the pro-Trump rally featured U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, state Sen. Owen Hill, Colorado Republican National Committeewoman Vera Ortegon and Derrick Wilburn, founder and vice chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives.
“I talk to veterans all the time,” said Hill, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2003. “I’ve never seen veterans more confident, more secure, more optimistic that the president’s got their back.
“The president will make sure that no one around the world could threaten them and (the leaders of other countries) will apologize for threatening our men and women.”
Dede Laugesen, coalitions director on Trump’s Colorado campaign team and wife of The Gazette’s Editorial Page Editor Wayne Laugesen, recited what she said has been the administration’s accomplishments:
“Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Soaring consumer confidence, booming business. Deregulation. Shrinking government agencies. Respect for military, law enforcement and first responders. Pipelines and energy independence.”
“Don’t listen to the naysayers, don’t listen to the fake media,” she said. “There’s so much good stuff to celebrate.”
Laugesen praised Trump’s efforts to keep immigrants from entering the United States illegally, prompting the crowd to chant, “Build that wall! Build that wall,” a reference to Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Pat VanDenBroeke, wearing a Trump/Pence T-shirt, claimed that unlike town hall meetings where constituents have jeered Republican members of Congress, Saturday’s rally was a show of grass-roots support for the president.
“We want (the Democrats), the president and our community to know that we’re not paid, but we’re behind the president,” she said. “It’s the foundation of democracy, isn’t it? It’s us saying we’re here. The liberal media would have you believe that we’re not here, but we are.”
About 25 counter-protesters stood behind the band shell holding signs showing their opposition to Trump’s policies.
“We absolutely disagree with President Trump,” one member said. “We disagree with the war in Syria. We disagree with him. We think he’s a fascist.
“We believe in women’s rights, we believe in LGBTQ rights. We believe in all that. And we believe that he’s an evil dictator who’s going to destroy this country and we’re here to say that we’re not OK with that.”