President Donald Trump received generous applause and cheering from college football fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday as the University of Alabama faced off against Louisiana State University.
Trump’s attendance at the matchup between the number one-ranked LSU Tigers and number two-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide was preceded by two recent athletic events in which he was overwhelmingly booed by attendees. Despite the positive audience reaction Saturday, Alabama student government leaders prepared for the event by cautioning the more than 101,000 fans against “disruptive behavior” during Trump’s visit.
Waving, cheering Alabama fans chanted out “USA” as Trump appeared in his box suite near the 50-yard line. But other videos showed prepared anti-Trump fans loudly booing the divisive president.
Trump’s motorcade was gleefully cheered on as bystanders witnessed him pull up to Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday just prior to kickoff. A supporter with a megaphone could be heard praising Trump’s visit by comparing him to Jesus Christ.
Several protests involving so-called “Trump Baby” inflatables as well as pro-Trump 2020 signs were littered throughout Tuscaloosa ahead of the SEC game. First lady Melania Trump also attended the game, sitting in a box suite with her husband after flying in on Air Force One Saturday afternoon, a U.S. Secret Service official told a local reporter. The boxes next to Trump showed dozens of people wearing red “MAGA” hats and at least one “Trump 2020” sign.
Trump was the target of roaring boos last month as he attended Game 5 of the World Series matchup between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Nationals Park in Washington. The Nationals went on to win the series. And he was also publicly ridiculed at last weekend’s UFC 244 match at Madison Square Garden.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, national TV networks including CNN and MSNBC interviewed students about their thoughts on the president. While several students told CNN they believe Trump has been treated unfairly for “trying to help the country,” another student interjected on MSNBC, saying, “I just like [Trump’s] policies and especially since Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself.”
Speculation about the president’s reception at the event, boos or cheers, was widely debated after Trump hyped his attendance of the Alabama-LSU game earlier this week. Trump told rally-goers in Monroe, Louisiana that he was going to attend the game, which he described as “LSU versus a pretty good team from Alabama.”
“I’m a football fan and I hear you have a great quarterback,” Trump told the raucous Louisiana rally audience. “We’re going to see. I’m actually going to the game. I said that’s the game I want to go to. It will be tremendous. Two great teams.”
Alabama’s student government sent out a warning Wednesday that threatened to revoke future seating for anyone engaged in “disruptive behavior” during the president’s visit to Tuscaloosa. Alabama’s Student Justice Coalition was among several groups which staged a sit-in on the steps of Gorgas Library Friday ahead of Trump’s visit, local AL.com reported. “I hate Trump more than Auburn,” one student remarked, referencing Alabama’s in-state rival university.
Trump’s attendance at the ‘Bama-LSU game immediately sparked criticism locally, with AL.com running an opinion piece urging students and alumni to boo the president.
“Convinced that he can beat the trend, his advisers have scheduled him to attend the LSU–BAMA game this weekend. Short of NASCAR, a battle between two red state powerhouses seems a safe bet for some adoration,” wrote Mario Artecano on Thursday.
Bleacher Report writer Jonathan Snowden concurred, saying Trump went out of his way to finally receive praise at a sporting event: “If Trump can’t get cheered at the Alabama/LSU game it’s either a tractor pull or a NASCAR race next,” he wrote Saturday ahead of the game.
After last weekend’s UFC event where Trump was booed, Trump Jr. attempted to downplay multiple videos showing his father being hissed by attendees. This prompted ringside UFC commentator Joe Rogan to reply, “they booed the f–k out of him.”
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