Waco (United States) (AFP) - "Every president has had their mistress, you know?" said 72-year-old Louis, as he waited Saturday to enter Donald Trump's first big rally of his 2024 campaign, in Texas."So why not him?"
Louis and his grandson are among the thousands of supporters, along with the usual vendors hawking "Make America Great Again" caps and "Trump 2024" flags, who have gathered at an airport in the city of Waco -- the site of a siege 30 years ago that ended with more than 80 dead.
In addition to several other state and federal probes, Trump is facing mounting legal pressure in his former home-state, New York, over hush money he allegedly paid during his 2016 presidential run to a porn star to ensure a prior affair never came to light.
The 76-year-old former US leader said last week that his arrest was imminent over the payment, which the New York City district attorney is investigating as a possible campaign finance violation.
One attendee at the rally, 54-year-old Michele, says she does not believe Trump will be arrested, because "that is just not even a smart move...and they know that."
The potential charges are just "political theater" and a distraction from "what's going on with the banking system which is crumbling before everybody's eyes," she said, referring to the recent collapse of multiple US lenders.
"He's going to get arrested for what?A misdemeanor?It is totally okay to pay someone to be quiet," she added.
Zach, an 18-year-old Waco resident, also believes the media attention on the potential charges are a distraction from the high inflation under President Joe Biden, whose support of Ukraine, in his view, is inflaming geopolitical tensions.
The payment Trump made to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, was "not through his campaign money...he did with his personal money," Zach said.
Julie, who drove over two hours from the Texas city of Tyler, said that the "Stormy Daniels situation is not a big one."
"She just came out of nowhere, (and) decided to see how much money she could get from him," added Julie, sporting a cowboy hat with "Trump" on it.
Outside the airport, the parking lot is already full of cars, many of whom arrived well before the doors opened at noon.Trump isn't expected to speak until after 6:00 pm, and is often late.
Anniversary of Waco siege
T-shirts on sale around the venue say "2nd Amendment supporter and damn proud of it," referencing the constitutional right to carry weapons -- others say "God, Guns, Trump in Waco Texas."
The city is widely known for the siege -- exactly 30 years ago -- of a ranch compound of the Branch Davidians, a religious group now called the Lord Our Righteousness.
Federal agents surrounded the complex for 51 days between late February and mid-April 1993, when a fire erupted inside.
Seventy-six members of the group, including its leader David Koresh and 20 children, were found dead after the ranch fire, while four US agents were killed in earlier fighting.
A memorial now stands at the site of the incident, which has become a cultural touchstone for far-right activists glorying in its history of resistance against perceived government overreach.
A "Trump 2024" banner, planted next to the memorial, flutters in the wind.
The group's current pastor, Charles Pace, believes Trump's enemies are the same ones Koresh had.
"They killed him 30 years ago," Pace, who is in his 70s, said of Koresh."They got rid of him because they didn't want him to expose them."
He added: "Donald Trump is going after them worldwide, not just in the United States."
Outside the rally, 55-year-old Sherry says she also views Trump as a liberator.
"He is the boss man," she says, "And he's gonna save America."