President Donald Trump spoke for about an hour on Tuesday night at Eppley Airfield in one of his final rallies before election day.
An official estimate of attendance numbers is not currently available, but the Omaha World-Herald reported that “21,000 people were screened into the event,” with more waiting in line, according to Omaha Airport police chief Tim Conahan. The president said several times that his staff estimated a crowd turnout of 29,000.
The president arrived in Air Force One at roughly 8 p.m. before taking the stage at about 8:03 p.m. At 8:16, The Omaha Scanner tweeted that four to five thousand people were still in line.
The president finishing speaking shortly before 9 p.m. Due to insufficient traffic flow of shuttles after the event, hundreds of adults, children and elderly waited in the cold for upwards of 3 hours. The Omaha Scanner tweeted at 12:39 a.m. that the event site “has been cleared.”
A statement to CBS News from the Omaha Police Department stated seven people were taken to hospitals and 30 others were “contacted for medical reasons.”
For UNO senior Jake Wohlers, the rally was an all-day event. He and his friends arrived at 11:30 a.m. and left Eppley Airfield at about midnight.
“We wanted to get seats, because we knew if we showed up later, we were probably going to be way in the back and we wouldn’t be able to see anything and it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said.
The wait paid off, as his group was in the first few rows of the crowd directly in front of the stage.
Wohlers, an aviation major, said after the event his group was able to wait inside a terminal before getting a ride thanks to a mutual friend. Those waiting for the shuttles, he said, “were absolutely miserable.”
Wohlers doesn’t consider himself “super obsessed with Mr. Trump,” but said “I mean, how many times in your life do you get to see a president? That’s a pretty special experience.”
Fellow attendee Lisa Matthew, for her part, was there for more than just the experience of seeing a sitting president speak: She was there to see Donald Trump.
“I’m here because I believe that Donald Trump and The Republican Party and his views and his platform represent my conservative, Christian values,” she said. “We’ve been praying all day over the issues, and we hope that, not only for President Trump, but for America, we would like to see God absolutely restore our country – for all people.”
Some of Trump’s talking points included Biden’s low-income housing initiatives, “the right to life,” keeping manufacturing in the United States and the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will deliver record prosperity, epic job growth and a safe vaccine that eradicates the virus and quickly ends the pandemic,” Trump said toward the beginning of his speech. “And we’re making that final turn—they don’t want to hear it, but we’re making that final turn.”
Trump referenced his own recovery from COVID-19 in thanks to “a lot of great doctors,” and said that “logistically we’re all set” with a vaccine.
Although the Trump campaign said masks were distributed and required, many in the crowd did not wear face coverings at the event.