Government & Politics

The Trump scene in Springfield: Fans, foes and a glass eye that says ‘Trump’

One of the first hands President Donald Trump shook when he landed Wednesday in Missouri belonged to a man who had scrawled the word “Trump” on his glass eye in orange ink.

Charles Buckner, a 74-year-old dairy farmer from Fair Grove, said he has multiple glass eyes that he occasionally decorates.

“I’m real excited to see the president. I never got close to one before,” Buckner said as he waited in line to see Air Force One land at Springfield-Branson National Airport. Buckner, a member of the American Farm Bureau, was one of roughly 120 people invited to greet Trump at the airport for his first visit to Missouri as a sitting president.

“I think he’s representing the things I feel. I think he’s bringing it back to what the country ought to be,” said Buckner, who noted that he supports Trump 100 percent. “We got too far to the left, way too far to the left. We’ve got to get back to nature, by gosh… I believe it’s time to come back to a Christian nation.”

When Trump descended the steps of Air Force Once — along with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt — he greeted Gov. Eric Greitens and other prominent Republicans from across the state. He then stopped by the crowd and shook hands with Buckner, who was wearing a bright red hat bearing the same name as his glass eyeball.

Elsewhere in Springfield, several hundred Missourians were less pleased to see the president come to Missouri and organized a protest at a Teamsters hall near the Loren Cook Co., where Trump delivered an early afternoon speech on tax policy.

Bruce Earnhart, a Springfield resident and veteran, called it his “civic duty to point out that this president is wrong at every turn. This is not the America I spent time in the Marine Corps for.”

Erin Kappeler, a member of the steering committee for Springfield Indivisible, said that her group, which organized the protest, wanted to make it clear “that even down here, in an area that did go heavily for Trump during the election, there’s a strong resistance. There are people here who understand his policies are terrible for working Americans, for working Missourians and for everyone in Springfield.”

Inside the event at the fan manufacturing company, however, Trump received massive applause from hundreds of supporters as he promised that “products made with American hands ... will once again be delivered throughout the world.”

The crowd that greeted Trump at the airport earlier in the day was a mix of local Republican officials, military families and other invited guests, including Scottie O’Donnell, a 30-year-old Army veteran who was lucky enough to get an invitation when one of Trump’s staffers stopped in the AT&T store where he works in Springfield.

“I served in the military and I’ve never seen Air Force One and I want to see it,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell brought along his best friend, Jenny Brown, a 36-year-old Springfield resident who said that she was “kind of torn” about Trump as president.

Laclede County Clerk Glenda Mott, who was donning an American flag T-shirt, said that she was “on board the Trump train from the very beginning.”

She praised his appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and praised Trump for speaking in a manner that everyone can understand.

“He’s had some obstacles with Congress, but I still think he’s trying — trying to do what he promised to do,” she said.

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