The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Rally attendees share perspectives on presidential election

<p>Attendees waiting in line to enter Donald Trump's rally at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on March 2.</p>

Attendees waiting in line to enter Donald Trump's rally at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on March 2.

Among thousands of voters waiting hours to watch former president Donald Trump speak at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, Erica Mazzella stood across the street from the convention, holding a cardboard sign that read ‘Abort Trump’ with ‘ACAB’ and ‘Free Palestine’ scrawled in small print along the sides. 

“One man said ‘you don't need to build a wall between us’ which I thought was hilarious,” Mazzella said. 

Throughout the day, Trump supporters walking by would try to pick fights or preach to her about God, she said. 

While she may be opposing Trump, she is also not in favor of another term with President Joe Biden and feels trapped by the two-party system.

“I think that they’re both terrible candidates and that this country deserves better,” she said.   

Mazzella said she will likely vote for Biden since she believes that he will protect reproductive rights, people of color and queer people. However, that does not mean she is happy with the available options. 

The other thousands of attendees could not say the same.

Jamal Groom, a construction worker from California, stood in line for over three hours with his family to see Trump, who he says is “the best we got.” 

“I'm looking for somebody to cut regulations and cut government spending,” Groom said. “We’re probably gonna have to raise taxes though.”

Trump spent the afternoon in Greensboro, N.C.,  speaking to voters before coming to the rally in Richmond in advance of Super Tuesday’s primary election in 16 states,  including Virginia. He previously lost Virginia’s vote during the 2016 and 2020 election to Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton and Biden. 

Some of Virginia’s General Assembly members were also present at the rally. State Sen. John McGuire (R-Amelia) shook hands with Trump supporters as two members of his staff displayed flags advocating for Trump and McGuire's candidacy in the upcoming 2024 U.S. House of Representatives election. 

Trump supporters booed at Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s campaign, which was advertised on a truck driving multiple times around the convention. 

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Few college-aged Trump voters showed up on Saturday afternoon. Banks Mullen, a sophomore at Hampden-Sydney College, traveled over an hour with his friends to see Trump in person. 

“Trump is somebody who I can confidently put his face on this country and he can lead us in a positive direction,” Banks said. 

Contact writers Ananya Chetia, Caitlin McCormack, and Reeve Boeckman at,, and

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