Donald Trump, Mike Pence rally in Grand Rapids hours before polls open

Jess Hodge and Sanda Vazgec

At the final stop in their campaign trail, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence held a rally at DeVos Place Monday, Nov. 7, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The exhibit hall quickly filled with attendees chanting, cheering and showing their support for the duo.

With less than 12 hours left until the polls open, both Trump and Pence stressed the importance of Michigan voters in this election.

“If we win Michigan, we will win this historical election,” Trump said. “There’s no place I’d rather be to end my campaign (than) right here in Michigan.”

Along with his promises to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and facilitate economic growth, Trump catered to his Michigan crowd, emphasizing the importance of bringing the automobile industry back to Michigan.

“Michigan, they’re ripping your auto companies apart and they’re taking your jobs,” he said. “They’re (going) into Mexico.”

Even before Trump and Pence took the stage, an emphasis was placed on the importance of West Michigan and Michigan voters by Congressman Bill Huizenga, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party Ronna Romney McDaniel and musician Ted Nugent.

In recent years, Michigan has leaned toward the left in presidential elections. This year, however, both candidates are within four points of each other, meaning they are in a statistical tie, according to a poll done by EPIC-MRA. This has made Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes imperative to both candidates’ path to the Oval Office.

It was Trump’s eighth visit to Michigan during his presidential campaign, and Grand Rapids was Trump’s fifth rally stop of the day.

Trump also talked about the Flint water crisis and compared it to Mexico “stealing our jobs.”

“It used to be the cars were made in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico,” Trump said. “Now, the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the d**n water in Flint.”

In addition to talking about local problems like the auto industry, Pence and Trump addressed national and global topics, including ISIS and the Affordable Care Act.

“When Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, we won’t be paying ransom to terrorist groups,” Pence said. “Donald Trump will lead on the world stage with American strength. We will hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source.”

Trump, who flew to Grand Rapids after a rally in New Hampshire, took the stage more than an hour after his planned speaking time. Around 12:15 a.m., he was met with loud cheers and applause from the crowd, and he promised to repeal and replace the “disaster known as Obamacare.” Pence also addressed Barack Obama and his presidency, garnering loud boos from the crowd at the mention of the current president’s name.

“We’re going to repeal every single Obama executive order,” Pence said.

Anne Smith, a Wisconsin resident, said the Grand Rapids midnight event was the fourth Trump rally she had attended.

“It’s been a long campaign; there’s a lot of excitement,” she said. “It was incredible to see how many people were here this late at night on a working day.”

Trump briefly addressed the possibility of him losing and then quickly backtracked and said it wasn’t going to happen.

Clay Chapman, an attendee of the event, is also hopeful for a Trump win at the polls.

“You could just feel it in the room that we know this is our last chance,” he said. “It’s a nerve-racking feeling because I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m expecting a win.”