A crowd of more than three hundred grassroots activists pushed into a church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday as organizers unveiled a get-out-the-vote plan to win the swing state for Donald Trump.
“The message is simple,” Tom Zawistowski, spokesman for Tea Party for Trump, told the energized Ohio crowd. “If you want to keep your guns and 2nd Amendment rights, you have to vote for Trump.”
Zawistowski is the co-founder of the Portage County Tea Party and is also president of the ‘We the People Convention,’ a coalition of Tea Party and liberty groups across Ohio. He opened up the Tea Party for Trump’s kick-off event by explaining the group’s partnership with the National Rifle Association in Ohio and other key swing states.
“Go to the website, Tea Party for Trump. Sign up. We can have you calling voters who are leaning our way immediately. And if you want to come up here to Ohio to knock on doors, we can make that happen,” he said.
Local representatives of the National Rifle Association’s political arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, provided details about the get-out-the vote program, and Linda Walker, a board member of the NRA in Ohio, explained the importance of the presidential election this year.
“If Hillary is elected, our God-given rights will be on her target,” Walker told the audience.
“I was thrilled when I learned that Donald Trump had picked Kelly Conway to head up the campaign,” said Phil Burress, another activist at the meeting. As the president of Citizens for Community Values, “We hired her to do research for us [a few years ago] … I’ve had meetings with her – she is one of us, and she is smart,” said Burress, who was not speaking for the CCV.
Burress explained why evangelical Christian voters should back Donald Trump.
“Pro-life judges: Hillary no, Trump yes. Supports Iran nuclear deal: Hillary yes, Trump, no. Protects Second Amendment: Hillary no, Trump yes. Supports boys and girls in public school bathrooms: Hillary yes, Trump no,” Burress began. “I can’t believe I’m even talking about this,” he quipped to laughter from the audience.
“Defund Planned Parenthood: Hillary no, Trump yes. Repeal tax for family inheritance: Hillary no, Trump yes. Supports Biblical religious conscience: Hillary no, Trump yes. Reduces EPA regulations on coal and oil, Hillary no, Trump yes,” he continued.
“It just goes on and on. He scores perfect for us,” Burress said of Trump.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking if they’re not on the Trump bandwagon,” Burress said of Christian voters who have not yet decided to vote for Donald Trump. “The simple answer is this: Supreme Court,” Burress added.
Zawistowski then introduced Katrina Roma, a police officer in Ohio who had just come off a ten-hour shift. Police unions traditionally have supported Democratic candidates for president, but that support, especially among the rank-and-file, looks this year to be going for Donald Trump, he added.
“I’ve been a police officer here for eighteen years, patrolling urban neighborhoods here in Ohio,” Roma told the audience. “I’m here today to support Donald Trump for president,” Roma declared.
“I see first hand what reckless policies do to citizens in these [urban] neighborhoods. Drugs, gang violence, robberies, shootings, and killings of innocent people, including precious children caught in the crossfire,” she said.
“We need a president who understands these issues and will support law enforcement officers who risk everything,” she said.
Doctor David Mungo, representing the medical industry, explained why Obamacare, which Hillary Clinton supports, must be repealed and why he is supporting Donald Trump, who opposes it.
“I’m an orthopedic surgeon in Northeast Ohio. I fix broken bones for a living,” Mungo said. “I still see patients on a daily basis who have no idea what the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] is or what it means to you,” he noted.
“How many people here have a good understanding of what the Affordable Care Act is and read all 15,000 pages of regulations [that govern it],” Mungo asked rhetorically, to gales of laughter from the audience.
Let me read you the stated purpose of the Affordable Care Act. It was passed ‘for the purpose of expanding health insurance coverage while also reforming the health care delivery system to improve quality and care. It requires U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance and creates state based exchanges for individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage.’
“That’s what they say,” Mungo said, noting that what it really does has little to do with its stated purpose. “The Affordable Care Act is nothing more than the federal takeover of health care. It also happens to be the largest tax increase in U.S. history,” he said.
“It’s not about improving health care. It’s about submission to the government, and them telling us what to do with our health care,” Mungo added.
Diane Stover of North East Ohio Value Voters, explained why pro-life voters should back Donald Trump. “I’m here today to support Donald Trump because, literally, lives are at stake if Hillary Clinton is elected president,” she said.
Mike Chadsey of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, speaking as an individual, explained why energy workers and voters who rely upon reliable energy sources should be involved in Tea Party for Trump. “I have not said anything more important throughout this entire year than Donald Trump should be elected president,” Chadsey said.
The coal industry and the oil and gas industry, have been hurt by excessive regulations imposed by the Obama administration, regulations that will continue and likely accelerate if Hillary Clinton is elected president, he said. Those regulations are hurting the creation of energy sector jobs in Ohio, and adversely effecting the cost of energy for Ohio voters, he said.
Marie Jackson, the last speaker, wowed the audience with her message about why voters should cast their ballots for Trump.
“What is this election really about?” Jackson asked rhetorically. “It’s about our children and children’s children,” she said.
“If we fail to put Donald Trump in office, I shudder to think what this nation will look like,” she said.
After the speeches, the event broke into a working sessions where volunteers obtained detailed instructions on how to participate in the get-out-the-vote activities of the Tea Party for Trump-NRA program in Ohio.
A second Tea Party for Trump kick off event, this one a Tea Party rally, will be held in St. Louis on Sunday.
Michael Patrick Leahy is one of fourteen Founding Members of Tea Party for Trump and the author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.