Byron York, Washington, Pa. — Everyone can see President Donald Trump’s rallies. In the final days of the campaign, he is jetting from swing state to swing state, drawing big crowds to outdoor airport events as he makes his closing argument for reelection.
But there are also pro-Trump events that aren’t covered in the media. A case in point was a recent road rally, with thousands of Trump supporters jumping in their cars and pickup trucks to drive through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Organizers estimated the rally included about 2,000 vehicles, each with two, three, or more people inside. Gatherings like it have been going on for months in some of the places President Trump needs to win most if he is to be reelected.
And here is a striking part — the rallies are not the work of the Trump campaign. The tri-state road rally was organized and staged by local Trump supporters, linked together largely by Facebook, who want to show that enthusiasm for the president in western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas is not just strong, but stronger than it was when Trump eked out a victory in Pennsylvania in 2016. If Trump wins this critical state, it will owe in significant part to this organic movement and the energetic organizers who have nothing to do with his official campaign.
The route of the rally — St. Clairsville, Ohio, to Wheeling, West Virginia, to Washington, Pennsylvania — was in the heart of oil and gas country. Many, many of the participants had either direct or indirect connections to the energy industry. (The most concise statement on that came from a man from Greene County, Pennsylvania, who said, “Yes, I am connected to the energy industry, because I’ve got electricity and gas in my house.” That was a short way of saying how important the industry is to all of us.)
The participants were well aware of Joe Biden’s recent pledge to “transition” away from oil and gas. To them, that’s Biden’s way of saying he wants to destroy the oil and gas industry. And for them, the only answer to that is to reelect President Trump.
“We’re here because we believe he is the only way we’re going to have an economy in the future,” said Sherri, from Claysville, Pennsylvania. “We’re a big oil and gas family,” said Kristie, from Washington. “We’re living the American dream because of the oil and gas industry.” “The enthusiasm for Trump is unreal,” said Maria, also from Washington, whose husband could not attend because he was at his job at a coal mine in nearby Waynesburg.
The rally was organized by Amy Savage, founder, and owner of a company called Oil and Gas Safety Supply. Savage came to the area with the fracking boom in 2012. She built a business selling hard hats and flashlights and gas monitors and eye protection and all sorts of flame-resistant clothing. She said the area enjoyed a big boom when Trump was elected.
“Immediately, the oil fields in Pennsylvania were getting back to work,” she explained. “They were drilling, drilling, drilling, and fracking, fracking, fracking. There were more oil and gas workers, more truck drivers, more hotels, more restaurants, more shopping centers. This area has exploded in the last three years with this influx of people. It was an economic explosion because you had a president standing behind the oil and gas industry in these three states, saying we need to be energy independent.
“And now, Joe Biden is going to put an end to it,” Savage continued. “Anybody who watched the debate heard those words come out of his mouth. When I heard it, it sent chills down my spine. He’s going to pull the rug out from under these three states.”
That was what motivated the thousands who gathered recently. Americans didn’t see their rally on the news, because it wasn’t covered. But it was important. If Trump wins Pennsylvania — and that would mean he’d have a good chance at winning a second term — he might well owe his victory to his grassroots supporters’ work on the road. Jumping in their cars and trucks and inviting others to come along has heightened the enthusiasm in oil and gas country. Look for them to keep driving all the way to Election Day.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.