Trump soaks in Deep South cheers at college football matchup

National

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are recognized during a NCAA college football game between LSU and Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.(AP) — President Donald Trump knew where to go Saturday for home field advantage, finding comfort in the Deep South with college football fans cheering the nation’s top two teams — and him.

His reception at the showdown between Louisiana State and Alabama contrasted with the scene at Game 5 of the World Series in Washington, where he was booed, and the mixed response to his appearance at a martial arts fight in New York.

Trump, sitting one tier above the field, waved as fans turned around to look up at the president. He smiled, gave a thumbs-up a few times and threw a couple of fist bumps into the air as the Alabama fans waved red and white pompoms in response. First lady Melania Trump got an equally enthusiastic welcome.

There was little sign of political sentiment on campus but plenty of bipartisan grumbling about the long lines to get in due to enhanced security.

The inflatable figure depicting a baby Donald Trump wearing a diaper, which has been seen at protests around the world, made an appearance in Tuscaloosa. A protester carried a sign that said “Roll Tide Impeach 45” and another held a sign saying she had sold her ticket and donated the money to the Alabama Democratic Party.

But there were more pro-Trump signs. One woman wore an oversized red MAGA hat and carried a sign saying: “Make BAMA #1 Again.” There were flags emblazoned with “Trump 2020” and banners that read: “Keep America Great Trump 2020.”

Presidents have long used sporting events to woo support, but these events also are a venue for fans to express their own political leanings.

Both loud boos and cheers could be heard as Trump took his seat before the recent pay-per-view UFC title match. That greeting was warmer than the reception Trump received at the World Series at Nationals Park, when he was roundly booed and became the target of a “Lock him up!” chant.

He knew he was heading to friendlier turf in Alabama, getting out of Washington where talk of impeachment was everywhere.

On the flight to Tuscaloosa, Trump tweeted jabs at House Democrats, who launched the impeachment inquiry.

On the tarmac before boarding Air Force One, he told reporters: “It’s a witch hunt and it should never happen to another president.”

In Alabama, where he won 63% of the vote in 2016, the president generated some heat. Alabama’s student government association warned students against being disruptive, but said their First Amendment rights will not being muzzled.

“Regardless of your political views, that’s pretty cool, having the president at the game,” said LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said, “Just for him even wanting to come to this game, it just shows, like I said, the magnitude of the game.”

For Trump, the game is both football and politics.

Trump has been enthusiastically supporting Republican businessman Eddie Rispone’s effort to unseat Louisiana’s incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in the last governor’s race of the year. The runoff election in Louisiana offers Trump an opportunity to pick up a win in a rare Democratic-held governor’s seat in the Deep South. He attended a rally in Monroe, Louisiana, on Wednesday and he’ll be back in the state this coming week, two days before Louisiana voters have their say.

The game came two days after Trump’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced he is going to run again for his old Senate seat from Alabama. Sessions was the first senator to back Trump’s upstart campaign and worked to champion conservative causes as attorney general, but the president has never forgiven Sessions for withdrawing from overseeing the Russia investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump said Friday he won’t campaign against Sessions.

At the game, Trump sat in a box owned by Jim Wilson, a real estate businessman from Alabama. The president was joined by Louisiana Republican Reps. Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham and Garret Graves; Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Alabama Republican Reps. Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear

Abbeville

53°F Clear Feels like 53°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
91%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
49°F Partly cloudy skies. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
2 mph NNW
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Crowley

58°F Clear Feels like 58°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
90%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly clear. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
49°F Mostly clear. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
2 mph NNW
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Opelousas

56°F Clear Feels like 56°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
77%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few passing clouds. Low 46F. Winds light and variable.
49°F A few passing clouds. Low 46F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
2 mph NNW
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

60°F Clear Feels like 60°
Wind
3 mph SSW
Humidity
78%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Generally clear skies. Low 46F. Winds light and variable.
49°F Generally clear skies. Low 46F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
2 mph NNW
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

54°F Clear Feels like 54°
Wind
3 mph S
Humidity
90%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A few clouds from time to time. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
47°F A few clouds from time to time. Low 47F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
3 mph WNW
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous

Local News

More Local

Sidebar

Trending Stories