The bills of official “Make America Great Again” hats are green on the bottom, according to a video that played on loop outside of the ER-3 hangar at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on Saturday prior to the arrival of President Donald Trump, who was in town to stump for two Republican Congressional candidates Rep. Greg Gianforte and Senate Candidate Matt Rosendale. The video, which described the making of the trademark hats, explained that anyone with a red bill on the bottom was wearing a knock-off. The knock-off, which costs $5 less, at least at Saturday’s rally, cannot guarantee you all of the benefits of the official hat, which include being made entirely in America.
That video was one of the first to play after the doors opened and three thousand or so people filtered through security, past the food trucks, past the portapotties and past the screen showing the video. Other videos included a veteran talking about how Trump administration tax cuts helped him give a raise to all of his employees at his brewery, and another was Lara Trump (the wife of Eric Trump) explaining how to deal with protestors at the rally that included such lines as “President Trump supports every person’s right to the First Amendment” and “He supports the First Amendment as much as he supports the Second.” But explains that protesters are not welcome – except for in the designated protest area, which I was unable to find but did exist because the Bozeman Daily Chronicle wrote about it – and anyone who is next to a protester should hold their signs up and chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” until that person is removed.
A large number of the Trump supporters attending Saturday’s rally in Bozeman were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, but not very many had green bill-bottoms. The people outside of the official gates were selling ones with red bill bottoms, and maybe they got them there or else somewhere else that was selling knock-offs in the past.
I did not hear anyone talk about knock-off hats other than the man on the video who manufactures and sells the hats, so maybe it’s not an actual point of pride in that community.
At 6:30 a.m., the line to get into the hangar was a few hundred people long. A group of men dressed in camouflage said that they had been there all night. They were all able to get in, as was anyone else who showed up before President Trump, as the hangar was half empty (the rally was held just outside of the hangar, with risers, a podium that was surprisingly close to the crowd and a backdrop of the Bridger Mountains and Air Force One). Security guards said that 4,000 people would be allowed inside before people were forced to watch on the screen outside that had been showing the ads for the MAGA hats. A few people, including a man in a wheelchair, chose to watch it on the screen, but not for lack of space inside.
“See all those hats? All those hats. Look at those hats,” Trump said during the rally. He did not remark on whether they had green bills or red bills. He was not wearing a hat.
Anyway, as Trump is wont to do, he praised the crowd size, saying he has the best and biggest crowds. This would not otherwise be noteworthy, as all politicians say this, but since the President has a tendency to exaggerate and tout his crowd size (he said there was a lot of media at his event Saturday, but there was plenty of room on the risers), I thought I would bring it up.
Trump also said that the MAGA hats will be be replaced by “Keep America Great” hats.
“Your agenda is Make America Great Again. That’s what your agenda is. It’s very… It’s a simple agenda. It’s a very simple, very straightforward agenda. You know, the new campaign, it’s going to be ‘Keep America Great’, right? I don’t think — as much as I love ‘Make America Great Again,’ I don’t know that we can carry it forward, because people will say, ‘Well, what did we do for the last four years? Are we still trying to do that?’ No. We’ve done so well, and we are ahead of schedule,” Trump said.
Keep, and even buy more MAGA hats, though.
“I wouldn’t sell the caps yet. Keep them for old time’s sake. They’ll be very valuable someday. But our new slogan will be “Keep America Great,” because that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
No word on whether the ones with the green bills will be more valuable.
Anyway, before Mr. Trump arrived but after Congressman Gianforte and Senator Daines spoke about how you should vote for Gianforte and Republican Senator Candidate Matt Rosendale in order to further Trump’s policies, a few young men in suits and a woman in a winter coat came out with quite a few MAGA hats to throw into the crowd.
These hats all had green bill-bottoms. As did the ones for sale for $25 at the back of the hangar.
But the pure joy of watching these young men go out there with MAGA hats, and try to decide which direction to throw them in was something that I had only seen a few times before in my life and it immediately brought me back to those moments.
At a frat party, a few brothers had just accomplished what seemed to be among the greatest deeds of their lifetime – they raced while shotgunning a Natural Light beer in a contest and had tied exactly (at least exactly to people who are shotgunning Natural Light, which can be a time difference of a few seconds, the distance required for a tie lengthening with the number of Natural Lights they had consumed) and after their race when they had thrown their empty, crushed aluminum cans to the ground they opened their mouth to shout and pulled their arms down, with their fists clenched and let out a roar and then other fraternity brothers came over and hit them in the chest and pulled their arms down and rubbed their head. At the rally, these men in suits were throwing out MAGA hats and they became so overwhelmed with joy and elation that they did that same exact thing, clenching fists and roaring. It was so similar it was striking. As they ran out of hats, the joy became even more palpable. The last man standing – with maybe three hats (all with green bill-bottoms) – went from one riser to the other, then from one side of the stage to the other, holding his hand to his ear and trying to decide which side was the loudest. After a few fairly successful attempts at making the crowd louder, he just threw them in three separate directions and exited the stage.
The man in the Canada Goose jacket, who had the purest elation, must have been extra proud of his green bill-bottomed hats because at 6:30 a.m., an older man who had driven to Bozeman from Houston but lives in California but just follows Trump around to rallies to sell merchandise, had just set up his table under a tent.
His wife was rearranging the table and a young couple, likely Montana State University students based on their attire, came up.
“Oooo, you can get your hat here,” the woman in the MSU beanie said to the man whose arm she was holding.
“Hats are $20, beanies are $15, t-shirts are $25,” the woman working the table said.
“T-shirts are $20,” her husband quickly corrected.
Beanies seemed to be the more appropriate choice based on the chilly weather, but it seemed that ball caps were the more popular item – despite their red bill bottoms.
The woman, who said they were next driving to Orange County because they heard Trump might be there soon, said she very much enjoys following the President around to his rallies.
“It’s kinda fun, you get to meet a lot of nice people,” she said.
The husband gathered a wagon full of MAGA hats, which were red on the bottom of their bills, and started walking the line of a few hundred people lined up. The man was making his way to the front of the line when the young man in the Canada Goose jacket stopped him and told him he wasn’t allowed on their property.
Now, according to a hunting land ownership application, that land belongs to the Gallatin Airport Authority, and I believe with all my heart that this man in the Canada Goose jacket, with his slicked back black hair and very expensive coat, was not a member of the Gallatin Airport Authority.
But the old man persisted.
“Can I make a donation?” he asked.
“That’s bribery,” the man in the Canada Goose jacket said.
Well, the old man turned around, and slowly made his way back down the line, selling MAGA hats along the way. Canada Goose returned to his Very Important job of standing at the front of the line and harassing whoever he could.
At around 7:30 a.m., the man and wife were still there but by 9:00 a.m. they had left, so someone with the Gallatin Airport Authority must’ve made them move their shop to the road, where at least four other groups were selling MAGA merchandise, including two black men, presumably father and son, who were the only minorities I saw at the event all day that were not media members or a part of the security detail or the Native Americans that arrived at 11:50 a.m. and were promptly rushed behind Trump for the photo op.
Anyway, after Canada Goose’s power trip was over, he got to throw hats, so it must’ve been a great day.