Some came on tractors. Many in cars. Even more on motorcycles.
One supporter of President Trump even outfitted an old, white limousine with campaign banners to boost the president in a convergence of two major Republican events in Carroll Saturday morning and early afternoon — a locally organized Trump Parade and a stop here by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual motorcycle ride across Iowa.
“A great day for two fun events,” said Craig Williams, chairman of the Carroll County Republican Party.
As motorcycles made their way to Carroll, with Ernst herself on a Harley-Davidson, cars and trucks lined up near the Eastside Shelterhouse at Swan Lake for the Trump parade, with red-white-and-blue signs and banners and decorations, blowing in a light breeze, promoting the re-election of the president.
The events had a regional draw as local organizers estimated the total number of vehicles, motorcycles included, at 175.
Sean Ehrp, 51, of Schaller, the operator of a salvage yard and towing business, came in the limousine to back the president.
“We just want to show our support,” Ehrp said. “I think he’s doing everything right. I think he’s doing all the right things. I think he’s different than typical politicians.”
The Trump Parade winded through Carroll and ended in a meet-up with Ernst’s motorcycle group at the Harley-Davidson of Carroll, where Ernst joined former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, recently returned from more than three years as the U.S. ambassador to China, for speeches to support the Republican ticket. Branstad’s son, Eric, is a national advisor and close confidante to the president.
Carroll County Supervisor Stephanie Hausman, an active Republican who has met with Trump in the Oval Office, served as a lead organizer for the rallies.
“I organized this event because I’m a huge Trump supporter, pro-life, huge Joni Ernst fan,” Hausman said. “Our Republicans right now, they need the most support they can get with the election coming up, and I wanted this to be a peaceful parade and to show our support. I would love to keep President Trump in for four more years, and I actually feel more momentum than I did four years ago.”
Ernst and Terry Branstad headlined the rally at the Harley-Davidson store.
The Carroll event was Branstad’s first political appearance since returning from the ambassador’s post.
Branstad said anti-abortion Catholics like himself should strongly consider Trump’s pro-life appointments to the judiciary.
“Just like the people here in Carroll County, she’s a pro-life conservative Catholic who believes in interpreting the United States Constitution as it was intended by our founders and not an activist liberal who wants to change the way America has always been,” Branstad said of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the federal judge President Trump has appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ernst is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee now holding hearings on the nomination.
Branstad said the nation is fortunate to have a strong leader willing to make tough decisions in the White House.
For Ernst’s part, she criticized her opponent, Democrat Theresa Greenfield, for holding too many events online during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of meeting with people in person.
“I care enough about Iowa to be out there face to face with all of you and look you in the eye and listen to the things that are important to you,” Ernst said.
A native of Red Oak with a farm background, Ernst said she is best positioned to lead on agriculture issues.
“I am a fighter for our farmers,” Ernst said. “I have been going toe to toe with anyone that dares bad mouth our RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard). We are going to continue fighting to make sure that our ethanol and our biodiesel are products of choice out there.”
Ernst, a first-term senator in one of the closer Senate races in the nation, said Democratic control of Congress would take the country in a direction most Iowans won’t like.
“We live in the greatest nation on the face of this planet,” Ernst said. “And you know what? My opponent wants, and the Democrats want, to fundamentally change who we are as a United States of America. Folks, I draw the red line in the sand.”