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Trump Supporters Rally To Echo False Claims About Election

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thousands of President Trump's supporters rallied in Washington, D.C., today at an event known as the Million MAGA March. Turnout estimates were all over the place. The White House said a million. President Trump tweeted about hundreds of thousands. Authorities in Washington, D.C., say it was more like 10,000. Whatever the figure, it was a bigger than expected public showing for Trump supporters who believe without evidence that he was robbed of a second term.

NPR's Hannah Allam was at the rally. She's actually still in the field near the White House. And she's with us now from there.

Hi, Hannah.

HANNAH ALLAM, BYLINE: Hi there.

MARTIN: So tell us a bit more about who showed up.

ALLAM: Well, it was a broad cross-section of Trump supporters. There were Republican families with their children, probably more racial diversity than I've seen at many other right-wing events. And as expected, there was a real mix of fringe and extremist groups there. I saw the Proud Boys, boogaloo boys, followers of the mass delusion of QAnon. There were a few scuffles, but no major violence.

And for the most part, all these groups are coalescing under the stop the steal slogan - again, a reference to the baseless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Trump supporters at the rally, needless to say, do not consider their views conspiratorial. I talked with one couple from Eastern Tennessee, Julie (ph) and David North (ph), and this was their response to that characterization.

DAVID NORTH: Look.

JULIE NORTH: Look around (laughter).

D NORTH: Is this fringe? This tells the whole story. This is the real story. This isn't the fringe.

J NORTH: Well, and I heard a great definition the other day. Someone said that the conspiracy theory that you would keep getting - you know, we hear that term being tossed around. Really what that means is it's a way to try to put people in a category who are smart enough to look and connect the dots. So they can call it whatever they want to call it, but it's truth.

MARTIN: Was there a goal for the day? If so, what was it?

ALLAM: Yeah. It kind of depended on who you ask. But, I mean, overall, it was a show of support for President Trump, a vocal rejection of the election results and an effort to kind of rally Trump's various constituencies under one banner. And they did this under the - you know, during the lockdown protests over the summer. And it seems like they're building on those connections, maybe extending those to some kind of, you know, forming of an opposition bloc under a Biden administration.

MARTIN: And President Trump had tweeted that he might show up at the rally, and he did. What exactly happened?

ALLAM: Yeah, that's right. I was around the corner with another crowd when it happened, but yes, the president's motorcade came to Freedom Plaza. It did a ring around the site. And, of course, this was thrilling to his supporters who were there.

I spoke with one of them who got to glimpse the motorcade. It was - that's Patti Tymon (ph). She's actually an immigrant from the Philippines who came to the U.S. when she was a child. And she says she's living the American dream that she believes Trump is protecting. And this was her thought on seeing his motorcade today.

PATTI TYMON: We just exited the elevators, and then there was this ruckus, and we ran out. I was, like, oh, my God. It's President Trump. And we tried to run to see him, but we saw, you know, all of the - the whole parade of security and everything else that follows him. But then he did a U-turn, and he started coming around the other way. And everybody was so excited because really they just love - they love him. They do. They genuinely love this president.

ALLAM: So yes. I mean, she is - she, I'd say, would be among the supporters who are coming to terms with the fact that the president is leaving office and I want to thank him, say goodbye, perhaps. But others say, no, they're not ready to give up the fight.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Hannah Allam.

Hannah, thanks so much for your reporting.

ALLAM: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF FREDDIE JOACHIM'S "SHOULDER KISS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.