The president’s rally-going base has traditionally been a market where apparel supporting the president does very well. Last year, former campaign
manager Brad Parscale claimed that they had sold 1 million official Make America Great Again hats since 2015, resulting in a gross haul of $45 million from the red signifiers alone.
But when Ohio’s lieutenant governor Jon Husted tried to promote some Trump merch ahead of his rally outside of Dayton on Monday, he was met with boos from the crowd for suggesting that they wear a campaign-approved mask when entering supermarkets during the pandemic.
“If you go in to a grocery store where you got to wear one,” Husted, a co-chair of the Trump campaign in Ohio, said to the crowd’s dismay. “Hang on, just listen up. Just listen up.” As the heckling grew louder, the Ohio Republican yelled, “All right! I get it. But if somebody tells you to take it off you can at least say that you’re trying to save the country by wearing one of President Donald Trump’s masks, all right? All right.” The crowd apparently did not consider wearing masks that say “Trump 2020” and “MAGA” to be all right.
The incident reveals at least two telling characteristics about this subsection of the president’s supporters in the crucial swing state. First, these Trump voters really aren’t fond of masks, a trend that is consistent with a Gallup poll this summer which found that 27 percent of Republicans said they “never” wore masks and 9 percent said they “rarely” did so. Second, the booing appears to affirm polling from earlier this summer showing that Governor Mike DeWine and his lieutenant governor — who executed one of the nation’s first shutdowns this spring — are more popular with Democrats in the state than with Republicans. When Trump mentioned DeWine, who was in attendance at the rally on Monday, he was also booed, to which the president responded with a tepid “he’s a good man.”
After the warm-up act failed to get the crowd going, the rally fell into its usual rhythms. Trump said something peculiar, admiring the televisions “in the bathrooms” of Air Force One. He said something made-up, claiming the existence of the military’s “hydrosonic missiles.” And he said something downplaying the pandemic, claiming that a virus which has killed over 200,000 Americans “affects virtually nobody.”