Trump, Pence and Bobby Knight Stump for Braun

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Thousands gathered at Southport High School on Friday to see President Trump, Vice President Pence, and former IU basketball coach Bobby Knight speak in support of Indiana Senate candidate Mike Braun.

Approximately 8,500 people were crammed into the school’s gymnasium, one of the largest in the state, to see the trio speak in support of the candidate running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly.

Thousands of attendees were lined up for the event hours before the president was scheduled to arrive. From the streets surrounding the school to the main entrances, staffers with bullhorns directed the snaking lines of Trump supporters decked out in the infamous MAGA hats and red, white, and blue outfits--but they mostly wore red.

Kathy, from Beech Grove, was excited to get a chance to see the president. A fan since Trump’s days on the television show “The Apprentice” and a political supporter since 2015, she spoke excitedly about being at the rally.

“I’m here to show my support tonight,” she said. “He fights for us every day. He’s telling the truth and will give it back to those who have lied to us.”

A few blocks away from the entrance to the high school, a group of protesters gathered in defiance of the rally. Logan Collins, the 23-year-old organizer of the protest and Southport High School alumnus, wanted to make it clear that Trump’s visit was not appreciated.

A protester carrying a sign which reads: "A few hundred people walking north is not an invasion," citing the caravan heading to the US border.

“Trump isn’t welcome here. Perry Township has a lot of problems with violence, so I think it was a poor choice on the school administration’s part to allow them to come here,” he said.

As the protesters continued to gather on the corner of the block, the line to gain entrance to the Trump rally wrapped around the opposite corner. The protesters let loose with chants of, “Love, not hate! That’s what makes America great,” and “Made in China.” Those waiting in line responded with, “Get a job,” “MAGA,” and some with raised middle fingers.

Longtime neighborhood residents watched from across the street and stood in their driveway with arms crossed. A large Joe Donnelly sign was placed in their front yard.

“This is sad,” one of the residents said. “There’s so much of a divide right now.”

One of the residents said that since the 2016 elections, they had experienced strained relationships with close family members and didn’t think they would be fixed any time soon.

“This political divide has ripped our family apart,” they said. “Since Trump came along, talking to family is like talking to a brick wall.”

As the protest mobilized and marched toward the high school, news crews quickly followed in an attempt to capture footage and set up interviews with those participating. As Mary Milz of WTHR and her cameraman attempted to set up a shot, shouts of “Fake news” could be heard coming from those waiting in line for the event.

At 6:15 pm, staffers announced to the crowds that the school was at capacity and that no one else would be allowed in.

Protesters, including several Southport students, lined up ahead of the rally.

Some of the crowd remained outside to watch the event on the large screen that had been set up just outside the entrance to the high school. Mike Pence took the stage first to thunderous cheers and applause, and spoke briefly before he introduced Trump, who received an even more enthusiastic response from the crowd.

Trump touched on familiar topics such as the migrant caravan, democratic opposition, and job growth. Mike Braun and Bobby Knight made brief appearances as well, but Trump himself and those attending made it clear the night was decidedly more of a Trump rally than it was a Braun rally.

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