San Jose: Trump supporters celebrate re-election announcement
A dozen Donald Trump supporters hit the streets in downtown San Jose on Tuesday before the president's announcement that he'll seek re-election. Photo by Mauricio La Plante.

Despite living in a liberal bastion, a small but mighty group of Silicon Valley residents are fighting to put President Donald Trump back in office in 2020. One of them on Tuesday flaunted her support for the 45th president in an unusual spot — her feet.

Wearing shoes emblazoned with an American flag and “TRUMP” in large print across her toes, Dora Ouimet mingled with more than a dozen other supporters in downtown San Jose to publicly back Trump, the same day the controversial Republican announced his re-election bid next year.

“I came today because I’m in total support of President Trump and want him to get re-elected in 2020,” said Ouimet, 65,  of San Jose, during a rally at the Plaza de César Chávez. “I stand by his agenda of America first. It doesn’t mean America only, but it means America first.”

Ouimet pointed to the president’s foreign dealings with Iran, North Korea and Russia as some of the highlights of his term, as well as his “ability to get nations to pony up the money they owe.”

As a first-generation Mexican American, Ouimet expressed pride in how her father immigrated “the right way” into the U.S. from Mexico, and applauded the Trump administration for its handling of illegal border crossings — even after last month’s news of a fifth migrant child dying while in American custody made more national headlines.

“My father loved this country and showed us through his actions that this is the best country in the world,” Ouimet said. “His love of America is my love of America.”

San Jose police officers kept close watch on a Trump re-election rally in downtown San Jose. Photo by Mauricio La Plante.

After a 2016 rally with then-presidential candidate Trump violence broke out in the streets of San Jose, leading to a string of assaults that garnered national headlines and a subsequent lawsuit. GOP leaders alleged San Jose police officers failed to intervene during riots and break up fights due to political reasons, a charge police leaders denied.

But on Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen officers kept close watch on the peaceful rally, prepared to jump in if any violence or unruly conduct broke out. Spokesman Jason Dwyer said police leaders learned about the rally that morning and immediately showed up.

“We don’t anticipate any issues here today at César Chávez Plaza,” Dwyer told reporters in the park, “but at the same time we can’t ignore the history and the situation.”

Dwyer said the decision to deploy officers to the rally was made to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. As tensions rise ahead of the 2020 election cycle, police leaders said Tuesday they’re committed to keeping the peace.

Dwyer said that decision meant pulling officers off of their regular duties Tuesday afternoon, calling the deployment a “drain on resources around the city.”

San Martin resident Justin Aguilera, 32, said he attended the rally “because I think it’s important no matter who your candidate is, you shouldn’t be afraid to show support.”

As a former Democrat who previously voted for Barack Obama, his shift to conservative politics came following the end of Obama’s term.

“You have to realize that through the eight years we had through Obama, there’s a reason a lot of people went right,” Aguilera said. “[Obama] failed. He was just lip service. He did nothing. He created a culture of victims and entitlement.”

Santa Clara County Democratic Party Chair Bill James said while Trump begins his campaign, local Democrats are looking forward to the upcoming debates set for Thursday, where Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage in Miami.

“I trust the process and the voters to pick the candidate that will represent Democratic values well, and I think if we do that in the current environment, and knowing what the country knows now about President Trump, we’re going to get the candidate who will win,” James said, adding that defeating Trump won’t be easy because of “the reality of the electoral college” and the advantages of incumbency.

While he wants Trump in office for a second term, Aguilera added “if he loses, he loses.”

“We’re not going to have a damn riot about it. We respect the law,” he said. “I don’t have any real concerns at all. My concern is that our country is all going to go further left.”

Also Tuesday, dozens of Republicans gathered at various watch parties to witness Trump’s announcement in Orlando that he’ll seek re-election next year. Willow Glen resident Jeff Stanley, 56, said he decided to host a party inside his home after the Trump campaign reached out to ask him to organize the gathering.

“The problem is most conservatives kind of live in a rut here and they’re afraid to come out and they’re afraid to talk,” said Stanley, as more than a dozen residents wearing MAGA hats and waving Trump 2020 signs applauded the president’s words while watching a large screen TV.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” he added, taking a long sip of his Coke Zero. “This is going to be a crazy ride.”

Contact Kyle Martin at kylebmartin96@gmail.com or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.

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