President Donald Trump's supporters turned out in droves Tuesday for a reelection rally at the John Murtha-Johnstown Cambria County Airport.
The crowd contained too many people to be counted – although unofficial estimates were at least 6,000 – and many stood until Trump realized they had seats and told them to sit down in the middle of his speech.
Trump won Pennsylvania by razor thin margins in 2016. But in Cambria County, 67% of voters supported him. His swing-state appearance Tuesday marked Trump's second rally since returning Monday from COVID-19 treatment.
Johnstown Cambria County Airport pilot John Prater, of Mundys Corner, sat near the front of the staging area where Trump spoke. He said the president's ability to lead and negotiate trade deals make Trump the better candidate over Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
"I think he's got Ohio; I think he needs to carry Pennsylvania," Prater said. "To win Pennsylvania, like he did last time, he needs our electoral votes."
Latest polls show Biden leading in electoral college votes, but Prater doesn't agree with that.
"I think it's a lot closer than they say it is," Prater said.
Kelly Bender, of Pittsburgh, said she didn't vote for Trump in 2016, but she's become a supporter. Trump's tax cuts won her over.
"I work for a tax and accounting firm that serves small businesses. The tax cuts have been like nothing I've seen in my 20-year career," Bender said. "It's created jobs. Small businesses do what they do because they want to be their own bosses and they want to benefit their community. I know my clients hired additional employees because of money they saved in taxes."
'Guns' and freedom
During multiple points in Trump's speech, the crowd chanted "fill that seat."
Kurt Wolford, of Johnstown, was among the crowd.
"I think he's done a lot for the country," he said. "There are quite a few issues – when it comes to taxes, when it comes to certain things in Obamacare – I'd like to see get rid of, and I like the strength our country has built militarily – not going out to war with certain countries – but peace through strength."
Jane Bennett, a farmer from Frostburg, Maryland, chatted with Shea Judy of Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Ray Marano of Johnstown as they waited for the rally to begin.
"Trump is pro Second Amendment," Bennett said. "When you take away people's guns, as Democrats want to do, you take away their freedom, and they can be controlled like Venezuela or Nicaragua."
Judy said education was an issue that brought him to support Trump.
"I'm sick and tired of the indoctrination of our youth," he said.
Morano added: "I think school choice is best for our Kid's future. That's why I support Trump."
Backers from Japan
Hundreds of people arrived early Tuesday morning at The Galleria in Richland Township to be shuttled to the airport for Trump's 7 p.m. rally.
About 100 people visiting Pennsylvania from Japan were among those anticipating Trump's arrival.
Yuko Matsuoka was wrapped in a Trump flag.
"We love him. We think he is the person God sent to America," she said.
Helping her communicate, Pierre Tardy, a U.S. citizen from Wayne County, Pa, said: "They are afraid of China."
The group carried fliers with information that China has invaded territorial waters of Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Indonesia.
"If Trump isn't elected, China will push down Japan," Tardy said. "That's why they fight for Japan. China is a communist country that wants to expand and already it is taking territory from Japan and other countries. And Joe Biden is owned by China."
Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the uninhabited Senkakus islands as their own, but Japan has administered them since 1972. In July, Chinese coast guard cutters started to operate inside the islands’ territorial waters. That move suggested that Beijing is there to exercise law-enforcement powers and challenge Japanese control.
Tardy said he belongs to Sanctuary Church in Wayne County, where the individuals from Japan had been visiting when they heard of the rally.
"There is a big fight in America, and you know, they came here to support Trump," Tardy said.
Long drive, long walk
Wearing a MAGA hat, various buttons with pro-trump slogans on his denim jacket, and red shoes reading "Trump," Edward Young, of New Jersey, decided to walk a few miles in the rain Tuesday from The Galleria to the airport to make sure he was in the front row to see the president in the evening.
He anticipated maybe a couple thousand people would fit in the area within view of the president. Others would have to watch on a big screen. He's been to more than 40 rallies, he said, so he knows how it works.
"They said the shuttles weren't going to leave until noon," he said. "I said, 'to hell with that.' "
Young, 61, said he worked all day Monday. He is a debt counselor, he said. Then he drove more than 300 miles to Johnstown through the night.
"This is my 41st Trump rally," he said. "I think Donald Trump has a new lease on life. He is the proverbial cat with nine lives because he beat this Wuhan Chinese flu virus rather spectacularly.
"I think this forces us to re-examine the severity of this Chinese flu, but I don't doubt that it's dangerous. I've had a few friends who have died from it. But they've all had serious health conditions. They were about my age and had cancer or cirrhosis of the liver or emphysema. I don't doubt that it's dangerous but the lockdown was stupid."
Young said he supports Trump in large part because of the Supreme Court nominees he's appointed during his term as president.
"I'm tired of watching two generations of radical left judicial activists filling seats at the Supreme Court," Young said.
"I want to see constitutional conservatives on the Supreme Court. I think real patriotic Americans want that. And he (Trump) is on the verge of doing three," he said, referring to the most recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, who has begun confirmation hearings.