Supporters at Texas Rally See More ‘Determined’ Trump
Supporters at Texas Rally See More ‘Determined’ Trump

By Janet Hisle

WACO, Texas—Some of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters sense a shift in the former president’s tone.

During his 2024 campaign kick-off speech in Texas this past weekend, Trump seemed more determined than ever to retake the helm and set a badly reeling nation back on course, several of his supporters said.

Dylan Marshall, 36, of Waco, Texas, was among the crowd that welcomed Trump to the Waco Regional Airport on March 25. Trump’s campaign estimated attendance at 25,000.

About 25,000 supporters gather for former President Donald Trump’s first 2024 campaign rally at Waco Regional Aiport in Texas. (Courtesy of Donald J. Trump for President)

In an interview with The Epoch Times two days after the rally, Marshall reflected on Trump’s three presidential runs.

He thinks that the billionaire businessman was inspired by his love of country ever since he announced his first foray into politics in 2015. But Marshall sensed that Trump initially liked pursuing the presidency “to prove everybody wrong when they said, ‘You can’t do it.’”

After an unsuccessful bid to remain in the White House in the 2020 election, Trump is now projecting a greater sense of urgency as he seeks the presidency for a third time, Marshall said.

“I’m having a hard time describing it, but he just seems to be more determined to get America back to basics.”

Nation’s Values Topsy-Turvy

Marshall said that Trump appears to be deeply troubled by the downward spiral of traditional American values while inflation skyrockets.

“I think he’s just so bothered by what is going on with our country right now–it’s in even more terrible shape than it was in 2016” when Trump won the presidential election, Marshall said. “So, I feel like he’s seeing it as his personal responsibility to get in there and make the things that are going wrong, right.”

Marshall and two other Waco attendees who gave post-rally interviews to The Epoch Times said they see Trump’s popularity surging.

They think it’s because Americans are watching things go topsy-turvy with trends that Trump opposes.

Those include continuing to allow illegal immigrants and deadly fentanyl to seep through the Mexico-U.S. border, children being sexualized and indoctrinated with gender-confusing ideology, and climate-change ideologues pushing for expensive electric cars.

The trio agreed with Trump’s contention that the “weaponization” of the American justice system and corruption in Washington are among the nation’s biggest threats.

They also think that Trump is best prepared to counterattack since he’s been through the fire many times, as multiple investigations have targeted him.

All three also wondered if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is ready to take on that challenge.

DeSantis, who has not yet declared his candidacy, is widely seen as Trump’s most formidable potential contender to represent the Republican Party when Americans vote for the next president on Nov. 5, 2024. DeSantis has led Florida, America’s third-most-populous state, since 2018.

As Trump’s campaign has repeatedly pointed out, the former president has been gaining ground against DeSantis in public opinion polls. Trump would draw about 44 percent of Republican voters, 15 percentage points ahead of DeSantis, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

During his Waco speech, Trump said it defied logic for his opinion polls to rise while facing much “bad publicity” about a number of investigations targeting him.

Trump in the Crosshairs

Spearheaded by Democrats, the investigations center on Trump’s finances, handling of classified government documents, and his dispute over the 2020 election results. Trump calls the probes baseless “witch hunts,” the term he also used to describe investigations that plagued his presidency.

“After seeing the way that they treated him, the stuff that’s happened to him, I would not blame him tomorrow if he was like, ‘Hey, I’m out. I’m gonna go enjoy my life at Mar-a-Lago,’” Marshall said, referring to the former president’s Florida mansion.

That Aug. 8 action marked the first time that a former U.S. president’s home was raided.

Trump has said the raid was unnecessary. He says he would have turned over any records the FBI wanted, and the documents were declassified before he left office in January 2021. In contrast, the feds did not raid locations where Democratic President Joe Biden stored classified documents.

Instead, Biden’s surrogates were permitted to hand over records.

Earlier this month, news broke that Trump also faced another ignominious “first:” He was poised to become the first American president to be indicted and arrested.

But a New York grand jury investigation into an alleged Trump financial impropriety appears to be sputtering.

The Manhattan District Attorney is under fire for reviving a “dead” case against Trump. Federal authorities declined to prosecute Trump for the alleged misclassification of a $130,000 “hush money” payment.

In 2016, a lawyer who then represented Trump made the payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her promise to stay silent about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump has denied any such liaison, and a lawyer representing his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, wrote a letter stating that Trump was not involved with the financial transaction involving Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Democrats for Trump

Many people interpret these actions against Trump as politically motivated–and they don’t like it, said Lana Bento, 52, who came to the Waco rally from her home in nearby Hewitt.

“There’s been a major shift because people see the corruption that is going on in D.C.,” she told The Epoch Times. “I think numbers for Trump are increasing, to be honest, because of everything that has come out in the last three years. And I’ve seen numerous signs, ‘Democrats for Trump.’”

She also has seen quite a few people declare on social media that they weren’t fans of Trump, but they’re “definitely going to vote for him now.”

“I just see a change,” Bento said. “So I really find it hard to believe when some people say, ‘Oh, he’s never going to win.’ I find that really, really hard to believe because the support for him appears to have grown.”

Wearing a rhinestone “TRUMP” cap, Lana Bento, 52, of Hewitt, Texas, signals her support for former President Donald Trump as he holds a rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25, 2023. (Janice Hisle/The Epoch Times)

People are suffering financially, she said, and many perceive that Biden’s policies are to blame.

“They’re looking at their bank accounts and saying, ‘Man, I was better off when Trump was there,’” Bento said, noting rising prices for almost everything, but especially for gas and groceries.

“It’s hitting everybody’s pocketbooks … and they see things were better under a Trump administration,” she said.

‘Not His Time’

Although DeSantis has proven to be a capable leader in Florida, Bento feels uncomfortable with him ascending to the presidency.

During the rally, Trump asserted that his endorsement of DeSantis propelled him to victory in the Florida governor’s race at a time his candidacy was flagging. Trump suggested that, by apparently considering a presidential run, DeSantis is showing disloyalty and displaying a lack of gratitude for his help.

DeSantis also made comments about Trump’s possible indictment that didn’t sit well with Trump supporters.

In a warmup act to Trump’s Waco speech, Trump ally Mike Lindell, CEO of Minnesota-based MyPillow Inc., called DeSantis a “Trojan horse.” Other prominent Trump supporters have also lobbed that term at DeSantis, implying that DeSantis is hiding his true motives.

Lindell said he could “go on and on” about that. But Lindell summed up how he felt about DeSantis by saying the would-be candidate had “pretty much done himself in” with his comments about Trump.

Trump supporter Dylan Marshall (L) of Waco, Texas, posed with celebrity businessman Mike Lindell at a rally for former President Donald Trump in Waco, Texas, on March 25, 2023. (Courtesy of Dylan Marshall)

Last week, DeSantis said he didn’t want to get involved with the “manufactured circus” and “political spectacle” involving the New York case against Trump. But DeSantis also said: “You’re paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair—I can’t speak to that.”

At the Waco rally, Marshall said he agreed with Lindell and many others who interpreted that remark as a cheap shot.

Even though DeSantis did denounce the Manhattan prosecutor for “pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office,” Lindell said he didn’t like how the Florida governor characterized the situation.

“And the best thing he can do is endorse Donald Trump tomorrow morning,” Lindell said during the rally.

Trump’s Experience, Wealth Are Positives

Bento said she thought DeSantis was doing an excellent job in Florida but doesn’t feel positive about him now.

Trump “helped him get into office; he endorsed him,” she said. “And then for DeSantis to turn around and turn his back on Trump… that’s the way it appears to me, and I think that’s wrong.”

Still, Bento said, if the choice were between a Democrat and DeSantis for president, she’d vote for DeSantis or another Republican. “But I just think that without Trump, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Another rally-goer, Brandon Wyrick, 32, of Austin, said he thinks Trump is the right candidate to put in office now.

“I feel like we need somebody to get in there who’s experienced, who knows what they’re doing, to fix what’s going on in this country–and then put DeSantis in office,” Wyrick told The Epoch Times. “DeSantis needs a coach, and that would be Trump.”

Brandon Wyrick, 32, of Austin, Texas, and Cassidy Diaz, 31, of Waco, Texas, wear “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirts as they head to a rally for former President Donald Trump in Waco, Texas, on March 25, 2023. (Janice Hisle/The Epoch Times)

Marshall said another difference between the two men is that DeSantis “is not independently wealthy.”

As of September 2022, Trump’s net worth was $3.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine. His net worth peaked at more than $4 billion prior to his presidency, then dropped to about $2.5 billion during his tenure. “He didn’t even take a salary” as president, Marshall notes.

Because DeSantis lacks such vast resources, Marshall fears he could “easily become a puppet” to moneyed interests. That makes him a little nervous about DeSantis–or any politician who lacks a fortune to rely upon.

“That’s one of the biggest things that Trump has going for him: He doesn’t need anybody else’s money … And so it makes me believe him a lot more,” Marshall said.

Marshall said that Trump has nothing to gain by running for president again and enduring all the stress of the office, reinforcing the notion that Trump’s motivation is based on a sincere desire to uplift the nation.

Former President Donald Trump steps off his private airplane at Waco Regional Airport in Texas on March 25, 2023. (Courtesy of Donald J. Trump for President 2024)

DeSantis for President … in 2028

Wyrick said he thinks Trump and DeSantis should mend fences; DeSantis should allow himself to be mentored by Trump and seek the 2028 presidential nomination. “Then he’ll be coached up … and be ready to take on this country,” Wyrick said.

“Absolutely, I feel like DeSantis would do some great things. But can he do anything on the level of where Donald Trump is right now? Probably not,” Wyrick said. “I feel like now is not DeSantis’ time.”

Wyrick said that although the litany of problems Trump listed is formidable, the former president presented a convincing argument that he is up to the task.

After leaving the rally, Wyrick said he was uplifted.

“If I had to sum it up in one word, it was ‘hopeful,’” he said. “It brought joy to my heart, knowing that we still have people who are willing to do what it takes for this country, who are willing to take blow after blow for this country. Like Trump.”

NH Politician

NH POLITICIAN is owned and operated by USNN World News Corporation, a New Hampshire based media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information, local,...