RIO RANCHO, N.M.—Long before Air Force One even touched down here, the line of Donald Trump supporters snaked around the suburban Santa Ana Star Center, with thousands of red-capped fans happy and impatient to see the president live and in person.
Traffic in the vicinity of the venue had been snarled for miles and hours. And while many of the president’s signature promises—namely a proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border—are at best works in progress, the rally-goers I spoke with last night weren’t just supportive, but, whatever their walk of life, seemed to see Trump in themselves.
“He’s just like me,” said Richard Tuttle, an attendee in a Make America Great Again hat who moved to New Mexico from Southern California several years ago. “He’s a working man.”
“He’s in our town and so we’ve got to support him,” said Richard’s wife, Frances, who was in a matching red cap. “I will be voting for him again.”
On its face, the president’s visit to Rio Rancho, a suburb of New Mexico’s largest city, strung along the sage-covered mesas west of the Rio Grande, was quixotic. The Trump campaign is reportedly targeting New Mexico as a backstop in case it loses a state or two in the Midwest in 2020, sensing that it can flip the state and its five electoral votes. But the campaign’s case is slim. Trump lost the state by eight points in 2016, and Democrats wiped out Republicans in 2018. Democrats now control every statewide office and each congressional seat.