More people showed up to my birthday party and I'm realllly unlikeable. https://t.co/969D9N4cGU
— Adrienne Kisson (@akisson) February 6, 2017
Oh, the crowds Donald Trump saw last summer. Even in the northeastern reaches of the country, in Portland, Maine, the candidate packed an auditorium for a fiery speech on the dangers of immigration.
When protesters tried to disrupt that August rally, his supporters easily drowned them.
Trump smirked at his opposition that day. “Do whatever you want,” he said, while his fans’ chants filled the room.
Now the campaign is over. Trump the candidate has become a historically unpopular new president in Gallup polls, and his crowds look quite different.
After weeks of protests against Trump, his supporters in Portland tried to repeat the summer magic last weekend.
What they managed instead was a gathering that the Huffington Post called the “World’s Saddest Trump Rally,” to the delight of Trump’s opponents.
Just eight people gathered around a table in an otherwise empty plaza on Saturday.
“Letting people know he does have an awful lot of backers behind him,” one of them, Doug Prevost, told CBS affiliate WGME.
Prevost told The Washington Post the group wanted “to make a little bit of a point to counter all the negative protests” — including hundreds who had gathered up the street a few days earlier to oppose Trump’s executive order banning many immigrants from U.S. shores.
“I thought Bill had got it out to a few more people,” Prevost said. “He’s not too computer savvy, and I don’t tweet myself.”
A few more people trickled to the plaza later in the day, he said, and many passersby showed appreciation.
But as the group of eight stood in the cold in front of a TV camera that afternoon, Prevost said, “we were kind of laughing about it.”
The next day, others laughed too.
A Tale of Two Rallies
On the left is a rally against Trump * on the right is a rally for Trump
Nothing left to say pic.twitter.com/LJbErCD6bK
— Peter Files (@Bee_Paw) February 5, 2017
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) February 5, 2017
In fact, Trump’s opposition in Portland had swelled just hours after he wrapped up his rally and left town last August.
“Portlanders packed the steps of City Hall Friday afternoon to show their support for the state’s immigrants,” the Press Herald reported the next day.
The city broke 4-to-1 for Hillary Clinton on Election Day, though the Democrat only won Maine by a few percentage points. The Press Herald reported about 200 protesters took to Portland’s streets after Trump won.
The president has not returned to Portland since, though he sometimes obsesses about his crowds since taking office.
“I made a speech! I looked out, the field was … it looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people,” he said on his second day as president, despite accounts of a much smaller crowd for his inauguration speech.
Last week, even as his Gallup approval ratings set record lows for a new president, Trump bragged about his crowd size to world leaders, according to leaked transcripts of the calls.
Now the rally in Portland, intended to remind the world of Trump’s support, has instead become a symbol to those who would disrupt his agenda.
— El Brown (@DosCentavos_OC) February 6, 2017
Or simply mock him.
“Trump later tweeted out his appreciation for the 27 million people that attended the rally,” Dwan Borens wrote on Facebook.
In Portland, Prevost said he’d yet to read any of the mockery — though he hopes the attention helps improve the rally’s size when they meet again next weekend.
“Maybe it’s a base to get started,” he said. “The Hillary supporters have drawn up a lot more following. I don’t know how that is.”