Former President Donald Trump speaks Saturday afternoon to an at-capacity crowd at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Former President Donald Trump speaks Saturday afternoon to an at-capacity crowd at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Trump stumps in Alaska

Former president praises Alaska’s people, places and trio of favored politicians at Anchorage rally.

This story has been updated with additional details

ANCHORAGE — Former President Donald Trump spent more than 90 minutes hitting all the highlights of his nationwide rallies while making sure to toss in plenty of red-meat references to Alaska’s politics, places and wilds during his first visit to the Last Frontier on Saturday.

“I’ve heard for years there’s no place more beautiful and I agree,” Trump said. “I just saw some things that you don’t see in normal places. I’ll tell you this is not a normal place when you have a lousy senator like Murkowski, but we’re gonna do something about that.”

While Trump said he was in town for two reasons, “to support great candidates and to fulfill my promise to Alaska that I was going to come here,” he spent far more time denouncing Alaska pols he didn’t like than praising those he did.

For an adoring Alaska audience packed to capacity at the 5,000-seat Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, and a reported 2,000 more watching the Jumbotron in the parking lot, Trump absolutely delivered on their expectations

Per Trump, he was the best president ever for the most beautiful state. He attracted the biggest audience ever in the arena. His candidate of choice for Senate has run harder than anybody ever.

Conversely, the current senior senator is the worst ever. Fuel costs for fishermen are a disaster. The new, voter-approved method of “crap ranked choice voting” is deplorable.

[Entering the political arena: MAGA faithful —and Trump —come to Alaska]

“Sarah Palin won, but we had a couple people in second place, so we’re going to give them the victory,” Trump said, offering his interpretation of Alaska’s contribution to the ever-present theme of election fraud. And, he added, it’s all Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s fault because “she knew she could not win a straight-up election, so she went for crazy ranked-choice.”

Murkowski has been a frequent subject of Trump’s ire since voting to convict the former president during his second impeachment trial.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is seeking Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, joined former President Donald Trump for a Save America rally in Anchorage. Palin was an early backer of Trump’s presidential campaign. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is seeking Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, joined former President Donald Trump for a Save America rally in Anchorage. Palin was an early backer of Trump’s presidential campaign. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

During an array of Alaska references offered sometimes as random interjections during his broader themes and sometimes as a rapid-fire recited list, Trump literally touched on places from the southernmost to northernmost parts of the state and seemingly left no major issue behind.

So Glacier Bay got a shoutout, as did road and construction projects for Alaska Natives, as did the Inside Passage.

“Does anybody know the Inside Passage?” Trump asked, perhaps not entirely rhetorically in what was far from his loudest applause lines. “What a beautiful place. Let’s go there tonight.”

The main order of Alaska-related business, which he addressed quickly at the start and then returned to a great length — if rather randomly — was expressing his support — without using the word “endorsement” — for U.S House candidate Sarah Palin, U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Kelly Tshibaka, former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner and current U.S. Senate candidate, joined former President Donald Trump at a Save America rally held Saturday in Anchorage. Tshibaka was one of two Republican congressional candidates to join Trump. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Kelly Tshibaka, former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner and current U.S. Senate candidate, joined former President Donald Trump at a Save America rally held Saturday in Anchorage. Tshibaka was one of two Republican congressional candidates to join Trump. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Palin and Tshibaka also joined Trump on stage, getting invaluable photo-op footage to go with familiar campaign speeches supplemented with high praise for the man at the proverbial center stage throughout the four-hour event.

Trump’s appearance on stage came about 45 minutes after the scheduled 4 p.m. start — keeping pace with a day when the scheduled 11 a.m. entrance to the arena and 1 p.m. start of the event were delayed by similar amounts. But for people from near and far who’d been standing in line outside for nearly seven hours he delivered full value, based on the frequent volume of their applause and chants on cue to familiar and new Alaska-specific lines.

Almost certainly the biggest moment for any of the audience members came when he called Saundra Kiczenski and Garrett Graham to the stage after spotting the T-shirts featuring a collage of Trump images they were wearing in the front line of the crowd directly in front of the podium.

“I love this shirt, I want one of those shirts,” he said. “I want this shirt, I’m going to wear wear it to the next rally.”

Kiczenski, who’s attended 64 Trump rallies since 2015 and already has a picture with him with a book she wrote about her experiences, courtesy of generously donating to a fundraiser.

As the pair departed the stage Trump said “I want that shirt. I want both of them. Take those shirts off and give ’em to me right now.” Graham did indeed remove his shirt, possibly to give to the former president’s staffers.

“I am still in shock President Trump called me on stage during the Trump rally,” Graham wrote on his Facebook page. “Can’t believe it.”

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Garrett Graham and Saundra Kiczenski are called to the stage by former President Donald Trump after he spotted them wearing T-shirts with his likeness among the front row of spectators at the Save America rally on Saturday in Anchorage. Kiczenski, a Michigan resident who said she’s attended 64 Trump rallies since Dec. 21, 2015, wrote a book about her experiences and previously met him when she paid to get into a fundraiser to ask his opinion about it. Graham has also attended numerous Trump rallies across the country.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire Garrett Graham and Saundra Kiczenski are called to the stage by former President Donald Trump after he spotted them wearing T-shirts with his likeness among the front row of spectators at the Save America rally on Saturday in Anchorage. Kiczenski, a Michigan resident who said she’s attended 64 Trump rallies since Dec. 21, 2015, wrote a book about her experiences and previously met him when she paid to get into a fundraiser to ask his opinion about it. Graham has also attended numerous Trump rallies across the country.

The rally started with an invocation, singing of the national anthem and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by notable in-state personalities. The first national celebrity speaker was Mike Lindell, notorious for pillows and debunked election skepticism, who got some folks on the media platform into a buzz by making what they considered local breaking news.

“I’m going to put in my endorsement right now for Kelly,” he said of Tshibaka, adding his support of Palin came long ago.

There were, of course, multiple references by multiple speakers to “fake news” with Palin joining Trump in the obligatory boo-bird finger pointing.

“For years Donald Trump watched what the fake media, the fake news, the lamestream media put my kids through,” she said, explaining her early endorsement of him when he ran for president in 2016.

Palin and Tshibaka also each got their own warm-up speeches before coming on later to hug Trump and address the crowd in his presence.

Trump also found time to return the praise during the solo periods of his appearance — along with demonizing their opponents with the often random topic-jumping that’s another trademark of his rallies. Glowing and mournful praise for recently assassinated Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for example, was immediately followed by a few sentences about the “disgraceful” Murkowski whom, speaking for the audience, vowed are “not going to vote for you.”

The former president also offered absolutes of adulation for Alaska’s governor — who was not at the rally due to what a spokesperson called an out-of-state travel scheduling conflict — in a seeming bit of doublespeak given Trump’s conditional support.

“Four months from now, the people of this state are going to reelect your terrific governor, Mike Dunleavy,” Trump said. “He’s a good man. He’s been with me from the beginning.”

Trump, in a previous written statement, has proclaimed his praise is on the provision the governor doesn’t support Murkowski: “In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!”

Rally-goers stream into the Alaska Airlines Center Saturday afternoon. By the time former President Donald Trump took the stage shortly before 5 p.m., the arena was full. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rally-goers stream into the Alaska Airlines Center Saturday afternoon. By the time former President Donald Trump took the stage shortly before 5 p.m., the arena was full. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

In addition to his usual range of national issues and localized applause lines, Trump did mention numerous in-state issues and at least conceptual ideas of where he stands on them.

“I’m in favor of guns, God and oil,” he said, putting a slight Alaskan twist on a familiar Republican slogan, before going on to make a string of Trumped-up claims.

“I got you ANWR, I got you the railroad, I got you the Cove Road or whatever the hell it’s called,” he said, the latter referring to a still-unbuilt road between King Cove and Cold Bay.

Besides denouncing ranked choice voting and the impact of fuel prices hikes on fishers, he attacked ongoing efforts to prevent oil drilling, timber harvesting and road construction in rural areas. He also claimed credit for improving things such as broadband access and telehealth services, “especially in rural Alaska, where you need it,” along with a few apparent misstatements such as blaming former President Barrack Obama for putting limits on Trump’s efforts to expand hunting, trapping and fishing activities.

And, while national media speculated Trump might announce as soon as this month he’s running for president again, he settled for the now-common tease of indicating he intends to continue what he claims without evidence is an undefeated streak in elections.

“With the help of the great people of Alaska we may have to do it again,” he said.

• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

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