O’Connor: Donald Trump’s Syracuse rally unforgettably patriotic, uniting

When Donald Trump first said earlier this year that he was “the most popular person that’s ever lived” among upstate New Yorkers, it sounded like yet another one of his exaggerations. But judging from the unbelievable sights at his rally on Saturday at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center in Syracuse, it was hard to argue.

My choice to wake up early earned me a nice spot in line at 7:45 a.m. and landed me in the third row alongside supporters covered head-to-toe in Trump hats, shirts and buttons. But I certainly wasn’t the first one there: the line outside of the Oncenter War Memorial Arena reportedly started to form at 4 a.m. for an event that was slated to start at noon.

There was an immense amount of patriotism that filled the air, characterized by calls to build a wall along the southern border — one of Trump’s main talking points — as well the “U-S-A” chant. I had never seen that many people who cared so deeply about the direction their country was going.

Here are the three most memorable quotes from Trump on an important day for Syracuse and the central New York area:

“We’re going to bring it back like never before. If I’m elected president, you’re going to have jobs coming to Syracuse.”

Trump said this to set the tone for the Syracuse rally and spark a discussion on the state of the U.S. economy, which was what most of his talk focused on. With jobs constantly flowing out of the country and into foreign nations like China, Japan and Mexico, someone has to be held responsible. That’s exactly what people love about Trump: he understands that working-class Americans have been ripped off by large corporations looking for cheaper labor elsewhere.

Trump proposed threatening to hit these companies with a hefty tax that would force them to stay in the country and continue to employ Americans — an idea that was received well by the crowd.

“What I like is spending the least and getting the best result, because that’s what we want to do with our country.”

Here Trump was referring to his journey as a politician and how he’s fared against other candidates. He seemed to enjoy reminiscing about his previous primary and caucus wins against the Republicans who have tried so hard to bring him down.

Trump wanted everyone to know that the millions of dollars in negative advertisements were spent to no avail. While it may have seemed like he being arrogant, it’s important to realize just how far Trump’s business acumen has got him. He acknowledged spending little money on his campaign so far and preached that this was something the United States should embrace. In this way, Trump stands as a voice for change for a country that overspends without much to show for it.

“We’re going to stop illegal immigration and we’re going to stop drugs from destroying and poisoning our youth.”

As noted above, Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration is one that many Republicans have adopted. It was clear that the Syracuse crowd loved this quote — likely because of how he vocalized what many people have been too scared to share in public for so long. In all, his visit reinforced that Trump still believes in strong border enforcement in order to stop illegal immigrants from spreading drugs into American neighborhoods.

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The Trump rally in Syracuse was an experience I’ll never forget — not only due to the power of Trump’s campaign, but because of the supporters. It says a lot when people are willing to wait on their feet all morning long to attend an event that lasted about an hour.

The candidate’s decision to stumble into Syracuse on Saturday morning was a brilliant idea in order to enthuse upstate New Yorkers to get out and vote in Tuesday’s crucial primary. And regardless of one’s views on Trump, the rally was the perfect representation of what makes America great: the freedom to speak and be actively involved in the country’s politics.

Kyle O’Connor is a sophomore sport management major and political science minor. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at


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