By Steve Flowers
Former President Donald Trump paid a visit to the Heart of Dixie last week. Obviously, this is Trump country.
Alabama was one of Trump’s best states in the 2020 Election. He got an amazing 65% of the vote in our state. If the turnout for his Aug. 21 rally in rural Cullman County is any indication, he would get that same margin of victory this year if the election were held again. Many of those in attendance were insistent that Trump won last year’s presidential contest and that it was stolen from him.
The event was held on a desolate rural north Alabama farm. It was reminiscent of the 1969 Woodstock event in rural New York. In fact, our newly minted U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville referred to it as “Trumpstock.” Tuberville nor I either one attended Woodstock, but we are old enough to know about the legendary music and imbibing event. It was also reminiscent of some of the old George Wallace rallies in the 1960’s — only much larger.
The rally drew an enormous crowd. Estimates said there were 45,000 Trumpites in attendance and I am not an expert on estimating crowds, but I do not disagree with that number. It took me 30 minutes to walk through the crowd to get to my car.
Trump is truly an entertainer and Alabama is truly Trump Country, although there were quite a few folks in attendance from neighboring states. I was very appreciative to be given a VIP front row private reception invitation to the event. Allow me to share some of my observations.
Coach/Senator Tommy Tuberville won his seat in the U.S. Senate because Trump endorsed him. It is obvious that Trump and Tuberville like each other and have bonded. Tuberville ran for and is in the Senate for the right reason. He wants to spend some of his retirement years giving back to this country. Tuberville was not groomed to be a politician. He is a football coach, but he is doing a good job representing Alabama in Washington. He has put together a good staff headed by veteran Stephen Boyd. They are doing a good job with constituent service. Tuberville looked jovial, relaxed and dapper when he spoke prior to Trump.
Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth gave a great speech. It was fiery and almost George Wallace level. He is a true conservative. He has two young sons who accompanied him to the rally. They are very gentlemanly young men, who are always courteous and mannerly.
Attorney General Steve Marshall gave an excellent speech. It was conversational, sincere and well received.
Congressman Robert Aderholt was spectacular and gave a great speech and welcome. He represents Cullman in congress. His 4th Congressional District gave Trump the largest percentage votes of any congressional district in the country. Aderholt looks like a congressman. He is polished and erudite, but has a grassroots appeal. His people in North Alabama love him.
Mo Brooks spoke and was fiery as ever. Trump has endorsed him in the senate race. However, Trump only endorsed him once on this night.
There is a lot of internal discord among the Republican Party membership. It appears that the Mo Brooks supporters have taken over the Republican Party hierarchy and that this Trump event was a Mo Brooks rally. Trump probably was asked to temper his Brooks endorsement. Indeed, Mo Brooks’s opponents, Katie Britt, Lynda Blanchard and Jessica Taylor were all in attendance.
Several state senators were there, along with the aforementioned state constitutional officers. I saw Greg Reed from Jasper, Tom Whatley from Auburn, along with hometown Cullman Senator Garlan Gudger and PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden also from Cullman County. In addition, Secretary of State John Merrill and Jefferson/Shelby Congressman Gary Palmer were in attendance.
It was good to see some of the old, longtime, 50 year Republican Party faithful founders there — Elbert Peters from Huntsville, Joan and Paul Reynolds from Shelby County and Vicki and Mike Drummond from Jasper. They were laboring in the Republican vineyards before it was cool to be a Republican, and still are.
I had a chance to see Trump closeup. He looks amazing for 75. People age differently. He is a lot more cognizant and alert than 78-year-old Joe Biden. If you made me bet, I would say that Trump is running for President in 2024 and that he will carry Alabama.
Happy Labor Day.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column is seen in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at: www.steveflowers.us.