Thousands of ardent Donald Trump supporters braved the rain and mud Friday for a chance to see the former president, who was returning to Westmoreland County to promote his endorsement of Republican senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The rally, which was officially supposed to start at 8 p.m., transformed the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant Township into a pro-Trump field covered with cardboard cutouts of the former president and banners reading “Trump Nation” and “Trump 2024.” Several also promoted key conservative values ​​and suggested the 2020 election was stolen, despite the evidence.

“I think it’s so energizing,” said Lynetta Villano of Luzerne County. “I think it gets people out there and voting. He reminds us how well our country was doing when he was in office. I think we’re at a point where we really long for that. … Especially with the economy, I think that’s the hardest thing that people are dealing with.”

Several attendees dressed in Trump-related attire, either with the red “Make America Great Again” hat or T-shirts showing their support.

Few donned Oz-related clothing, with many suggesting they were still undecided about the candidate, whom Trump endorsed last month for the May 17 primary. At the time, Trump said his decision was about “winning the election,” noting that Oz is known for his role as host of “The Dr. Oz Show.”

Oz, a former heart surgeon, is among a group of 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats seeking to replace US Senator Pat Toomey. The Lehigh Valley Republican is not seeking re-election.

“We’re here to see Trump just to see what he has to say, just to see what he has to say about Oz, because a lot of us are undecided about him,” said Nadia Lowe, 59, of Oakmont. “I just want to get a sense of why he’s backing it.”

When Trump took the stage, he mentioned that they were there to demonstrate for Oz. However, it took almost an hour for him to mention Oz again.

“I think he’s going to win, he’s a great gentleman,” Trump said, noting that he doesn’t just endorse conventional candidates.

The eulogy drew a few boos from the crowd, mixed with a few cheers.

Throughout his speech, Trump took time to tout the victories of other endorsed candidates, including J. D. Vancewho recently won the Republican primary for the Ohio Senate, and greg pence — brother of former Vice President Mike Pence — who won the Republican nomination to defend his seat representing Indiana’s 6th congressional district.

“Our movement has a string of blockbuster wins in Ohio and Indiana,” Trump said.

During his campaign, Oz has focused on Republican values, stating that he is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. Oz, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Turkey, has also taken a conservative stance on the border and illegal immigration.

On Friday, given about five minutes to speak, Oz focused on energy and the Green New Deal, which calls for replacing fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil with renewable energy.

“The Green New Deal is not real and cannot be done,” Oz said. “I’m telling you as a scientist.”

Despite his stance, many people continue to question whether his campaign promises are true.

“He is not a true conservative who believes in our values,” said Jeremy Garris, 40, of Mt. Pleasant. “He’s going to go with whatever the establishment says.”

Others who attended the event hoped for some clarity on where he stood on certain issues.

“The debate didn’t go very well,” said Ken Baker, 42, of Natrona Heights, who attended the event with his 8-year-old daughter, Angelia. “Most of the answers from him were that Trump endorses him, so maybe he can answer a little bit more in depth. … Hopefully that clears it up.”

Throughout the event, Oz, who has been hit by tons of attack ads, mostly accusing him of being a fake conservative, portrayed himself and the Trump wing of the GOP as victims.

“Insiders, the establishment, they hate us,” Oz said. “That’s why they persecute us.”

Despite being an event to promote Oz’s candidacy, many people, some locals and some who traveled from afar, walked through the muddy fields for a chance to see Trump, who has been holding rallies across the country as that the elections are approaching.

Hundreds of people lined up hours before the doors opened for a chance to get a nearby seat.

As the afternoon progressed, the queue continued to grow. Even though the gates would open at 3:00 p.m., people were not allowed into the fairgrounds until 4:20 p.m., prompting several people to start yelling “Let us in.”

Sensation of rain on sheets, with only intermittent breaks.

The rain caused some people, like Jim Crawford, 66, of Bloomsburg, to leave before the rally began.

“It’s a mess there,” Crawford said. “We’re Trumpsters, we’re ultra MAGA, but it’s a mess.”

Still, others remained excited about the opportunity to attend the rally.

James and Kim Krupinski drove four hours from Buffalo, New York. The couple planned to return home on Friday night.

“It’s historic,” said James Krupinski, 53. “We live in a historic moment.”

Others, like Pam Olthof and Bill Bailey, see the rallies as an opportunity to earn money while promoting the conservative cause. The Michigan couple has spent the past two months traveling to Trump rallies around the country selling merchandise. They plan to travel to Wyoming on Saturday for another event.

“We started by accident, carrying some flags in the store. And there was such high demand that we brought more and more stuff,” Bailey said, noting that she also has a pawn shop in Michigan. “After we did that, people asked us to go to some local rallies, and it just kept growing from there.”

For Ted and Laura Bruner of Mt. Pleasant, Friday’s event was the first time they had seen Trump.

The couple expressed their hope that he would run for office again in 2024.

“I hope Trump does because I feel like he has a good skill set and I think people don’t always like his personality, but I feel like he can get the job done,” said Laura Bruner, 61. “I think you have to remember that sometimes people adapt to work and can accomplish things for the greater good of the people, even if you don’t like what he says or how he says it. You have to overlook that sometimes.

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