Pam Huppenthal had the best seat on the street.
From the front porch of her in-laws’ house on Duss Avenue, Huppenthal, 58 of Economy, Pa., was high above the sidewalk and could see Ambridge Area High School, her alma mater, across the street.
The street typically sees some traffic, including semi-trucks on their routes. But Monday was anything but typical: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was having a rally at the school’s field house, one day after the second debate.
Several Trump supporters told The Incline that the candidate proved he was presidential and well-spoken on Sunday night. They said he apologized for what he said about women — that when you’re a star, you can do anything to them, even “grab them by the pussy” — in the 2005 video leaked on Friday.
The difference is that Trump said horrible things, and Hillary Clinton did horrible things, said Kris Korkoronis, a 19-year-old freshman at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said.
But to those protesting Trump’s appearance, the candidate’s apology was not enough. He’s not qualified to be president, they said.
A line had formed down the sidewalk and past the school. Near the front was a group of teen boys, chanting things like “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “We need jobs.”
Two drivers circled the block in trucks — one labeled the “Trump Truck.” The other had the words “Lock Her Up” and Clinton’s face on a billboard.
Huppenthal said she would have liked to go to the rally, but the gym’s bleachers would have been difficult to navigate with her cane.
“It’s exciting to see how many people are for Trump,” she said.
So instead, she pulled a chair to the edge of the porch to watch what happened.
“I’ve got my snacks, I’ve got my potty,” she said pointing to the house behind her. “I’m better off right here.”
A split street
In the hours before the Trump rally, Duss Avenue was a line in the sand.
On the side where the high school is, a line of Trump supporters continued to grow as they waited to go inside the field house for the rally. Eventually, the gym was full, and the remaining crowd was left to watch the event on a Jumbotron outside.
Vendors pulled wagons up and down the line and set up tents in grass to sell “Bomb the Shit Out of ISIS” T-shirts and buttons that showed Clinton’s face behind jail bars, among others.
Across the street, protesters mixed with people who stopped just for the spectacle.
A group from United Steelworkers gathered with signs, and they and other anti-Trump protesters started chants.
Occasionally, protesters walked up and down chanting: “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Donald Trump go away.”
The Trump supporters yelled back, telling the protesters to get jobs. Once, a semi-driver honked his horn, drowning out the anti-Trump chants.
“Woo yeah, baby. Bye, Felicia,” the Trump supporters yelled.
People spilled off the sidewalks into the streets, but only reporters and police officers crossed.
Steelers and steel
In the high school gym, Trump brought up many of the topics he’s talked about in debates from NAFTA (the worst deal ever) to Obamacare (get rid of it) to building a wall that would prevent illegal immigration from Mexico.
The last prompted chants of “Build that wall.”
But Trump started with the Steelers.
“We love Big Ben. Big Ben is a friend of mine,” Trump said after he took the stage twirling a Terrible Towel.
He then launched into a story about a golf outing he went on with Ben Roethlisberger, during which the Steelers quarterback hit a tree with a golf ball. Trump said he told him — you’re so strong, that tree will die.
And sure enough, Trump said the tree was dead in two years.
“He’s a strong guy and a good guy,” Trump said.
Then there was steel. Trump repeated four times that he would bring steel and manufacturing back to Pennsylvania.
He said he’d bring jobs back to steel workers and coal miners “on day one.”
“We’re going to bring back jobs to Pennsylvania, ” he said. “You had steel stolen from you.”
Trump blamed China and “stupid politicians” for the disappearance of the steel industry from the state.
“We’re going to make Pennsylvania rich again,” Trump said.