QUINCY, Ill. (WLS) -- Thousands of people gathered outside Quincy all day Saturday in anticipation of a rally with former President Donald Trump.
He is in Illinois to support Congresswoman Mary Miller in her reelection bid.
The Adams County Fairgrounds transformed into Trump-land for the former president, who is still very popular in this part of Illinois.
The line to get in started forming early and by mid-afternoon, it stretched hundreds of yards deep, with some supporters wondering if they would even get inside the event.
The rally drew thousands, creating a sea of red outside the venue.
However, just days before the GOP primary, Trump gave a major endorsement to Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey.
Bailey has been courting this endorsement for months. He met with Trump backstage shortly before hearing the words that could seal the GOP primary for him.
Former President Donald Trump was greeted with a standing ovation as he walked on stage, tossing hats to supporters who would later chant "four more years."
Trump is expected to run again in 2024, but the big announcement at this rally came as a boost to Bailey, who's leading in the most recent GOP primary polls.
"Darren has my complete and total endorsement," Trump said drawing cheers from the crowd.
Bailey apparently did not know he was getting the endorsement until just before the rally started.
"I've made a promise to President Trump that in 2024, Illinois will roll the red carpet out for him because Illinois will be ready for President Trump," said Bailey said.
Trump and JB Pritzker are now in a war of words with both considered potential presidential contenders in 2024.
"Darren is just the man to take on and defeat one of the worst governors in America - JB Pritzker. He's one of the worst," Trump said, once again drawing cheers from the crowd.
Pritzker tweeted a pre-rally video jab at Trump.
"In Illinois in 2020, Illinois voters rejected Donald Trump by a resounding 17 points and we won't hesitate to do it again," Pritzker said in the campaign video. "Whether motivated by ego or downright malice, Donald Trump continues to lie with impunity about the results of the 2020 election."
Gary Rabine, another GOP hopeful, was also there working the crowd. His bus was kicked off the fairgrounds and supporters were told to cover their t-shirts if they want to get in the rally.
Rabine said Trump was close to endorsing him but it was blocked at the last minute.
On a day when the heat index topped 100 degrees, and supporters waited inside the security gate for hours in the sweltering conditions, the former president touted the recent Supreme Court ruling on gun rights and drew big cheers about Friday's decision on abortion.
"As for the Republican Party, we are today the party of life and we are the party of everyone," the former president said, prompting the crowd to chant, "Thank you Trump."
The rally was primarily called to support Congresswoman Mary Miller, who Trump has previously endorsed. Miller is in a tight redistricted race with fellow incumbent Rodney Davis.
Davis released a statement following the rally that said:
"I've always said I'm proud of my conservative record of working with Trump when he was in office. Together we protected the unborn, defended the Second Amendment, cut taxes, secured our border, supported our police and farmers, and so much more.
"I'm confident we will win on Tuesday thanks to my conservative record and also thanks to the countless local endorsements we've received, including Illinois Farm Bureau ACTIVATOR, the Illinois FOP and other law enforcement organizations, 19 sheriffs, dozens of local Republican leaders like my good friend Congressman Darin LaHood, blue collar workers, small business leaders, and many others."
For those who made the trek to the rally, it was a good day. They, and many others, are gunning to see Trump run again in 2024.
"Absolutely. He was, is, was the best president," said Karen Kern, of Quincy.
"I thought, well, it's my chance to see the president of the United States. I want to see him, that's why I'm here," said Matthew Dobey, of Quincy.
"Just to be here and to tell my kids. I've got five kids and one on the way, to tell them that I was here in Mendon and Quincy to support President Trump, it's a historic event," said Kenneth Woodard, of Chicago.
Trump's rally in Illinois may serve to energize republicans and get more people to the poll, with the biggest beneficiary appearing to be Darren Bailey.