Donald Trump holds Milwaukee campaign rally same night as first Democratic debate of 2020

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WLS) -- Thousands of supporters packed into the Panther Arena Tuesday night as President Donald Trump made his way back to the Midwest for a rally in Milwaukee. The event comes on the same night that the Democrats are holding another debate, which will be the first since the new year.

It was a sea of red hats championing the familiar Trump slogans like, "Make America Great." Ardent supporters, including a number from Illinois, came to the rally to cheer on the president who won Wisconsin in 2016 by less than one percent of the vote.

More than 13,000 enthusiastic supporters chanted and cheered for the president at the rally in downtown Milwaukee. The president fired up the crowd as he talked about the recent military action that took out the top Iranian military general blamed for killing hundreds of Americans.

"A few days ago we took bold and decisive action to defend American lives and deliver American justice. At my direction, the United States military launched a flawless precision strike that killed the world's number one terrorist," Trump said.

The president also spoke about the economy, noting that in the past three years 37,000 more Wisconsinites now have jobs.

"You have the most successful, lowest unemployment rate you've ever had and then they say somebody's going to come and say, 'We'll do a better job.' Really?" Trump said.

Outside protesters, including some who traveled from Illinois, gathered for their own rally, but Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Trump was king.

His supporters, including many from Illinois, said they were unconcerned about the impending impeachment trial hurting the President.

"Democrats are going to seal it for him," said Derek Singleton, of Fox Lake. "He's doing fine."

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Thousands of supporters pack into the Panther Arena in Milwaukee to cheer on President Donald Trump as he makes his way back to the Midwest for a campaign rally.

Among those first in line for the rally were folks who arrived at the arena nearly 24 hours early on Monday afternoon.

"It's so important to be here early to show our support and love for the president, and what he does for the country and who he fights for," said David Roswell of Yorkville, who was first in line. "He's fighting for everybody here, doesn't matter where you come from, what race, creed, nationality, money; he's here for all of us so, and we want to show him our thanks and support."

"This has been a major bucket list item for me," said Wendy Calcaterra, who had been waiting in line since 7 a.m. Tuesday.

A Trump spokeswoman said the timing of the rally is no coincidence with the Democratic contenders holding another debate the same night in Iowa, just three weeks before the Iowa Caucuses.

As six of the Democrats were debating in Iowa, the president took a shot at them, contrasting the choice in this election with a tip of the hat to Illinois' favorite son.

"They're the party of late-term abortion socialism and corruption," Trump said. "The Republican Party is the party of the American worker, the American family, the American Dream, and of course, honest Abe Lincoln."

This rally also comes on the eve of the day when the House Democrats will be sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, giving Trump's supporters all the more reason to be here.

"You know what, we're gonna do what we have to do," said Bonnie Kassel of Crystal Lake. "They're just making noise because they can't beat Trump, they're trying to do everything they can and I'm not worried about it."

A group of protesters with a group called "Refuse Fascism" gathered on Chicago's North Side to caravan up to Milwaukee and join others at a demonstration scheduled at a park a few blocks from the arena.

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Trump supporters gather in Milwaukee for a campaign rally the same night as the first debate in 2020.

"Why are we going? Because every day the Trump/Pence regime remains in power the catastrophic threat to humanity grows," said Lou Downey. "Look at the assassination of Suleimani ripping apart any pretense of international law."

The crowd outside included both young and old, but mostly white supporters. Among them was a family from Cary who brought their 10-year-old daughter.

"There is a certain respect with the office of the president of the United States that I think that our children should respect, no matter who it is," said Rachael Lawrence. "And that's why I brought my daughter here and got her out of school."

"It's just kinda cool to meet the president, I guess," Lawrence's daughter Serena said.

Trump implored voters in Wisconsin to help him win another four years and promised that the best is yet to come. The crowd joined him as he wrapped up the rally chanting "Make America Great Again," the slogan that helped him win the presidency four years ago.
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