The President’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., joined several local candidates and Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer at a rally in Williams Thursday.
About 400 people gathered from around northern Arizona and from several tribal nations to attend the event that launched the Native Americans for Trump coalition.
The rally came just hours before the announcement of a planned appearance by President Donald Trump in Prescott on Monday. The president had previously planned to make a stop in Flagstaff before the event was canceled after Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
From atop the flat bed of an 18 wheeler parked in the rodeo grounds in Williams, Trump Jr. made the case that the Trump administration has been a better ally to tribal nations than Democrats during the last three and a half years.
And Trump Jr. reminded attendees of the support his father had received from Native American voters during the 2016 election. Trump Jr. remembered a rally in Shiprock, New Mexico, that he spoke at and he said Native American supporters showed up in large numbers.
“It was truly an awesome, awesome, awesome experience because it was just so different. From a group that has probably been very tied with the Democrat party but they had recognized the Democrat party had left them; the Democrat party had taken them for granted,” Trump Jr. told the crowd. “That’s what the Democrats do, that’s what their specialty is: they pander. They tell you everything you want to hear and do exactly the opposite. They lie to you for years, you guys understand that better than everyone.”
Trump Jr. said his father has gone to bat for the Native American community, pointing to the coronavirus aid provided to tribes through the CARES Act.
Locally, the Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the pandemic and received about $714 million through the CARES Act, although the Nation did have to sue the administration before it and other tribes received the money.
Richard David from Bird Springs was one member of the Navajo Nation in attendance. A veteran of the war in Vietnam, David acted as one of three color guards at the event.
The Navajo Nation has generally leaned Democrat, with Hillary Clinton wining over 56% of the vote in the 10 counties that include parts of the Nation, according to The Guardian. And to be sure, Native Americans made up a minority of those attending the event.
But David said if his neighbors didn’t already know he was supporting the president, they do now.
“When I got asked to come and do this color guard, I went to the other veterans and most of them were supporting Democrats. So it was hard for me to get color guards for this event,” David said. “After I did that, word went out that we’re Trump supporters. So tonight when I go back, I’m expecting a different attitude towards me now.”
David also voted for Trump in 2016 and said he is a lifelong Republican. And he said he supports the President for working to bring jobs back to the U.S. and strengthening the military. David said he thinks former Vice President Joe Biden would only weaken the military if elected.
Trump Jr. was introduced by Lizer, who also attended the Republican National Convention earlier this year.
Lizer told the crowd he believes, if reelected, President Trump will help the Navajo Nation improve its economy and healthcare on tribal lands.
“We want to bring international commerce and industry and startups to the Navajo Nation. We have the land, we have the water and we have the work force, skilled workforce that’s willing to work hard. This COVID-19 magnified a lot of the health disparities and the lack of economic development on the Navajo Nation. Four more years, we get to work,” Lizer said.
The Trump campaign has had a large presence in northern Arizona this election cycle. The campaign has hosted four events in and around Flagstaff before Trump Jr.’s own visit.
That’s a far cry from the Democrats who have opted for mostly virtual campaign events due to the pandemic. The Biden campaign has made just one stop in Flagstaff to distribute signs and flyers, although Biden and his running mate visited Arizona and met with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez just last week.
The Republican campaign presence locally highlights that for the first time the State of Arizona could go to either party. For a state that was once seen as solidly red, and went for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by a nine-point margin, the Republicans' hold on the state now appears somewhat tenuous.