Vice President Mike Pence visited the city to headline a political rally Saturday for Brian Kemp, who is facing off against Casey Cagle on Tuesday to be the Republican candidate for Georgia governor.
President Donald Trump endorsed Kemp about four days before the rally.
Pence flew into the Macon Regional Airport and a motorcade took him to the Wilson Convention Center, where hundreds of Kemp signs were staked out in the median of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Secret Service agents, Bibb County sheriff’s deputies and Monroe County sheriff’s deputies helped with security.
About a thousand people filed through a metal detector and gathered in the auditorium waiting for Kemp and Pence.
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At times, the crowd would chant “build that wall,” “Kemp” or “USA.”
Carroll Guthrie and his wife, Linda, drove down from McDonough for the event. The couple is part of a national Bikers for Trump group, but drove a car to the rally because of rainy weather.
“The way the political parties are right now, I think our guys need as much support as we can get,” Carroll Guthrie said. “We showed up just for that reason.”
Linda Guthrie, holding up a stuffed doll of Donald Trump, said she was excited to see Pence in real life.
“I don’t have a Pence doll yet, but I’m working on it,” she said.
Outside under a shady tree near the parking lot, about a dozen people protested and held up signs. Teri Adams, a retired high school English teacher, held a bright pink sign that read, “Even Nixon was not as corrupt as Trump.”
She planned to drive to Macon from Cochran after hearing about Pence’s visit.
“I don’t like the way my country is going. I don’t recognize it anymore,” Adams said. “I’m a child of the Cold War. … I don’t want my grand kids to grow up in a world like I grew up in.”
Clayton Peterson, 15, felt quite the opposite. He and his grandmother, Dorene Cline, drove up from Warner Robins for his first-ever political rally.
On the way out of the auditorium, the two stopped to buy buttons and a Trump T-shirt.
“He’s been a Trump fan since Trump first started running,” Cline said of her grandson. “He can tell you the whole history of all the presidents. … So I thought, ‘This is the thing for him to come see.’ ”
After the rally, Peterson said he shook Kemp’s hand but did not have a chance to shake Pence’s.
“That’s OK,” Cline said. Pence “will be back in 2020.”