President Trump on Saturday is expected to attend a pivotal college football matchup between the Tigers of Louisiana State University and the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama, a pair of undefeated teams ranked No. 2 and 3 respectively in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
The game – set to kick off around 3:30 p.m. ET in Tuscaloosa, Ala. – will play out in a state Trump won by a large margin in the 2016 presidential election. But it’s unclear – following recent boos at the World Series in Washington, and a mix reaction from mixed martial arts fans in New York – what the football crowd’s response will be.
“I think it’s really exciting he chose to come here,” Alabama student Mackenzie Selldin, 21, told AL.com. “I think the cheering will override the booing.”
“I think it’s really exciting he chose to come here. I think the cheering will override the booing.”
— Mackenzie Selldin, 21, University of Alabama student
“He needs a group that will cheer him, not boo him,” Rich Crow, a retired professor of social work, told the outlet, referring to the president’s previous baseball and MMA stops.
On Thursday night, hundreds of people, many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats, purchased tickets to attend Donald Trump Jr.’s “Triggered” book launch at a mall in Birmingham, AL.com reported. The president’s son arrived in Alabama not long after his contentious appearance on “The View” earlier in the day — but whether the president’s eldest son would join his father at the football game was unclear.
Meanwhile, local anti-Trump activists, Trace Fayard and Nic Gulas, raised nearly $8,000 to pay for a giant inflatable “Trump Baby” balloon to be set up just four blocks away from Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium , The Washington Post reported.
A crowdfunding page titled “Get Baby Trump to Tuscaloosa” surpassed the $4,000 required to rent and transport the 20-foot tall blow-up caricature of a scowling, orange-faced president in a safety-pinned diaper, to the University of Alabama stadium. The balloon first made headlines last year during London protests to Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom. The crowdfunding page said the extra funds would be donated to the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to combat mass incarceration and racial inequities.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Duke, in Atlanta, Aug. 31, 2019. (Associated Press)
he student government at Alabama faced backlash this week after warning student organizations that anyone who participated in “disruptive behavior” during the game would be removed from the stadium and would lose their seating for the rest of the season. The move was seen by some as an attempt to discourage students from protesting Trump’s attendance during the game.
But a student government official later toned down the warning.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrows (9) throws a pass during the NCAA football team’s game against Georgia Southern in Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 31, 2019. (Associated Press)
“By disruptive behavior, we are asking students to be respectful to all students and staff and avoid altercations,” SGA Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Rothfarb said in a statement Wednesday. “My email had nothing to do with anyone’s First Amendment rights and I am sorry for any confusion. Please express yourself and especially your pride for the Tide!”
Rothfarb’s initial email had asked organizations to fill their seating sections earlier than normal given the added security that comes with the president’s arrival at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
A small group of about a dozen people participated in an underwhelming protest at the University of Alabama on Friday against Trump’s anticipated arrival over the weekend. Students and members of the Student Justice Coalition sat on the steps of a campus building, holding signs calling the president a racist, and saying they hated Trump “more than Auburn,” AL.com reported.
Saturday’s game will be the third major sporting event attended by the president in 13 days. On Oct. 27, Trump attended Game 5 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Then last Saturday night, the president attended a UFC welterweight championship fight between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.