Big time anti-Trump protests are back!
So was a rain on Trump’s spectacle ….
A soggy crowd assembled at the Lincoln Memorial grounds for President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” on Thursday as supporters praised his celebration of U.S. military clout and protesters assailed him for putting himself center stage on a holiday devoted to unity.
Trump was calling on Americans to “stay true to our cause” and declaring “the future of American freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it,” according to excerpts of his remarks released in advance by the White House.
A late afternoon downpour drenched the capital’s Independence Day crowds and presaged an evening of possible on-and-off storms, raising some suspense about whether Trump’s program of military flyovers and the city’s annual July 4 fireworks would be interrupted. The rain chased off a steady stream of people while others arrived, using plastic bags, ponchos and the covers of baby strollers for shelter.
By adding his own, one-hour production to capital festivities that typically draw hundreds of thousands anyway, Trump set himself up to be the first president in nearly seven decades to address a crowd at the National Mall on Independence Day. “I will speak on behalf of our great Country!” he said in a morning tweet. “Perhaps even Air Force One will do a low & loud sprint over the crowd.”
Protesters unimpressed by his “Salute to America” program inflated a roly-poly balloon depicting Trump as an angry, diaper-clad baby.
Trump set aside a historic piece of real estate — a stretch of the Mall from the Lincoln Monument to the midpoint of the reflecting pool — for a mix of invited military members, Republican and Trump campaign donors and other bigwigs. It’s where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, Barack Obama and Trump held inaugural concerts and protesters swarmed into the water when supporters of Richard Nixon put on a July 4, 1970, celebration, with the president sending taped remarks from California.
Aides to the crowd-obsessed Trump fretted about the prospect of empty seats at his event, said a person familiar with the planning who was not authorized to be identified. Aides scrambled in recent days to distribute tickets and mobilize the Trump and GOP social media accounts to encourage participation for an event hastily arranged and surrounded with confusion.
Many who filed into the sprawling VIP section said they got their free tickets from members of Congress or from friends or neighbors who couldn’t use theirs. Outside that zone, a diverse mix of visitors, locals, veterans, tour groups, immigrant families and more milled about, some drawn by Trump, some by curiosity, some by the holiday’s regular activities along the Mall.
Protesters earlier made their voices heard in sweltering heat by the Washington Monument, along the traditional parade route and elsewhere, while the VIP section at the reflecting pool served as something of a buffer for Trump’s event…..