I attended the Hillary Clinton for president rally at UNCG on Thursday, Sept. 15 and the Donald Trump for president rally at High Point University on Tuesday, Sept. 20, so I thought a little compare and contrast might be fun.
I was impressed with how similar the two events were. Neither was anything like the Trump rally held at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center in June, which was a pretty raucous affair. That was back in the day when Trump was coming out before overflow crowds and letting it rip. He had a few notes but mainly said whatever popped into his head.
Both Trump and Hillary Clinton read their speeches from teleprompters. Trump had a few more asides than Hillary Clinton but both mainly stuck to the script. Hillary Clinton spoke for about 20 minutes and Trump for about 25.
The biggest difference, other than the speeches themselves, may have been that Hillary Clinton started a few minutes early and Trump started an hour late. An hour is long time to keep people waiting, and no explanation was given.
The security at the Trump rally was much tighter than at the Hillary Clinton rally. For Hillary Clinton I had to empty my pockets and they looked in my camera bag. For Trump I had to take my camera out of the bag, turn it on and show the guard a photo. They dumped everything out of both bags I was carrying, looked through my wallet for some reason and left everything in a pile on the table while they wanded me.
I thought the security for presidential rallies would be fairly similar but that was not the case.
Another big difference was in the way the media was treated inside. At the Hillary Clinton rally you had to walk into the cordoned off media area and couldn’t leave, even an hour before the event started, without being escorted by a campaign worker or, in my case, for some reason two.
They let me out to take a photo of Mayor Nancy Vaughan and other local dignitaries in the audience but then I had to immediately get back in the media area, which had no opening. You actually had to walk out into the hall and come back into the room by a different door. There was no doubt that they didn’t want any media types escaping and mixing in with the crowd, but I don’t know why.
At the Trump rally, the media could wander around before the event unescorted, although I did get told twice I had to move. Once I was in an area near the stage and they actually fenced off an area so I was the only one inside. I knew that wouldn’t last, but later I was sitting in the High Point University VIP area with permission of a vice president of High Point University and a campaign worker came and told me I had to leave because the Secret Service had complained. Evidently in the minds of the Secret Service there is no way someone could be part of the media and a VIP.
After that I went out on the floor, which was filled mainly with students who were too busy taking selfies to care about an old guy in their midst.
So my experiences at the two events was different because for Hillary Clinton I was with the press and for Trump I was with the people. But another aspect of that is that they had made the venue for the Hillary Clinton rally so small that even the press area wasn’t far away from the stage, and the press area extended down one side of the room where you could be beside the stage.
At the Trump rally the press area was way in the back of the room. In fact, you might think that Trump didn’t like the media very much judging from where the campaign placed them.
It’s a little odd when you think of how the two parties are perceived, but at the Hillary Clinton rally the VIPs were put right in front of the stage, with Vaughan and city councilmembers on a front row. At the Trump rally the VIPs were behind the speaker or off to the side, and in front of the stage, in the prime spots, were regular folks who had arrived early.
One thing about both rallies that I think bodes well for the area is that people were polite. Even the guards dumping all my stuff out on the table were polite about the whole deal.
It’s fun being a battleground state with the candidates making frequent appearances.