A Trump unity rally in Leesburg on Wednesday night focused on the Second Amendment, helping the GOP find support among urban voters—and Hillary Clinton’s email server.
About 30 supporters gathered on the back patio of The Cajun Experience—some snacking on famed Café du Monde beignets and sipping on Abita beer—as speakers touted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s commitments to gun ownership and national security.
A news crew from Japan recorded the event as part of a project to introduce Trump supporters to their viewers back home. In the audience were two men—former county supervisors Ken Reid and Eugene Delgaudio—who are alternate delegates and might get a vote at the Republican National Convention, which opens in Cleveland, OH, on July 18.
The event was organized by Americans for Liberty and Free Enterprise, a PAC that aims to reconnect the Republican Party to urban voters. The Cajun Experience owner Bryan Crosswhite is the vice president of that group. He also is a gun enthusiast who offers discounts on Wednesdays to clients who open carry at his East Loudoun Street eatery.
Trump campaign representative Juli Haller focused her remarks on the FBI’s review of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State and Director James B. Comey’s announcement Tuesday that no criminal charges would be pressed against the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate for the improper handling of classified information.
“We really got hammered yesterday. … It’s a true travesty of justice,” Haller said, noting that others in government had been prosecuted for lesser, even unintentional, violations. “What happened with Hillary yesterday was political and it was what we call public corruption.”
FBI director’s decision not to prosecute is “not what the United States stands for and not the justice we believe in,” Haller said. “He betrayed our country, and we don’t understand it.”
On broader campaign issues, Haller and other Trump supporters stressed the business mogul’s passion for American values and his commitment to protect citizens’ freedoms.
“Whatever the dissenters say about Mr. Trump, they cannot take from him that he loves America and he loves what this county is built on and he will protect our rights. And that is something we should not forget because we are at a time of jeopardy,” Haller said.
Loudoun County Republican Committee Chairman Will Estrada admitted being one of the party activists who was “late to the Trump train.” Estrada worked on the national level in support of Ted Cruz, but jumped to Trump once the Texas senator dropped from the race.
“He loves America. No matter what concerns you might have with Donald Trump, there is no question that he loves this country; he loves what it stands for,” he said. Estrada also outlined the case against Clinton, citing her work as secretary of state that included the failure in Benghazi, and missteps in Honduras and with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
At the core of the event was a presentation on ALFE’s effort to help the GOP make inroads into Democrats’ inner-city strongholds.
ALFE President Kenn Blanchard, addressing the crowd through a Facetime video feed, said the PAC’s focus is to “undivide the nation one family at a time.” The group cites the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as its inspiration.
“Dr. King said we must learn to live together as brothers or parish together as fools. I really believe that there is no better time than now for people like you and I to show the world that it isn’t as bad as they think it is, but to fix it takes all of us to make it work,” Blanchard said.
Crosswhite said the GOP has failed inner city voters by ignoring them.
“One thing that the Republican Party has done is we forgot about those people. We don’t listen to them. We don’t go into those neighborhoods. We don’t do anything,” he said.
His goal is to do more than listen, but also to promote job growth and business mentorships—including at two new restaurants he plans to open.
“We’re the first organization to stand up and say we’re going to take on the cause of Martin Luther King. We’re going to go into these urban communities and, instead of giving them an Obama phone for registering as a Democrat, we’re going to do something different,” Crosswhite said.
Increasing diversity has helped Democrats gain an upper hand in Northern Virginia, a major factor in Obama’s critical wins in Virginia.
“This is important. We need to take our country back. We can’t just take our country back as a bunch of white people who live in Loudoun County,” Crosswhite said. “We have to go into our communities and love our African-American, Latino Americans. We need to talk to them. We need to get these people involved.”
The Trump campaign is gearing up in Loudoun.
Andrew Loposser, the Republican Party of Virginia’s field director for Loudoun, said door-to-door campaign visits have begun and urged volunteers to join that effort.
During last week’s meeting of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, the Trump campaign field officer for Northern Virginia and Maryland said there would be two Trump campaign offices in Loudoun. John Jaggers also told the crowd that campaign promotions such as yard signs and bumper stickers are on order and will be available for distribution soon.