National political activist Scott Presler joined the Butler County Republican Committee (BCRC) in the grand opening of their election headquarters in downtown Slippery Rock Wednesday.
The opening drew such a large crowd that organizers had to move the event from the headquarters building outside to the gazebo in Gateway Park.
Before speaking, Presler was inside, registering new voters and handing out Trump – Pence bumper stickers. He said a lot of the people he registers are new voters, although he does get some that are switching to the Republican Party.
As more than 100 people gathered in and around the gazebo, Slippery Rock Mayor Jondavid Longo kicked off the event, welcoming guests and introducing speakers. Longo said Presler caught his attention with his always positive attitude and his slogan, “Make Kindness Cool Again.”
Many of the attendees came to see Presler, a political activist who travels around the country picking up trash and encouraging people to support President Donald Trump this election. Those actions have earned Presler hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout social media and the GOP.
Morgan Allen, a senior criminal justice major at SRU, said she follows Presler on social media and was excited to hear he was coming to Slippery Rock. She brought her friend Healy Simmons along, who was visiting from Texas.
Simmons did not know about Presler but wanted to show support for Trump, who she said has helped her family a lot with keeping oil fields up and running.
Before heading to the event, Simmons purchased two “Make America Great Again” flags to show support for the president.
Allen said she admired how hard Presler works traveling the country to clean up cities and get others to register to vote.
Presler said his message is not just about getting people to vote Republican, but that they have a place within the party.
“I want people to know that this is a no-judgment movement,” he said. “And that every single person is welcome within this Republican Party.”
Throughout his speech, the message was met with applause, even when he was interrupted by a garbage truck emptying a dumpster next to the gazebo.
Presler ended his speech with a call to action for party members to get people to register to vote, knock on doors and engage with people.
Presler and others who spoke believe a party headquarters on Main Street is a step of that call to action.
Longo, who serves as secretary for the BCRC, said along with registering voters and handing out signs for candidates, the headquarters will be a place where people can engage in civil discourse without being attacked or met with “some sort of aggressiveness.”
Longo said having a headquarters in Slippery Rock was important because northern Butler County is often overlooked. The location also provides the best way to engage younger voters, who the Republican Party overlooks at times, Longo said.
Addressing the crowd, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, said the party cannot take any one vote for granted this election.
“Don’t believe for one minute that it’s a landslide,” Kelly said, referencing the presidential race.
Individuals should recognize that the country’s public education is its greatest tool, said Kelly, and college students should be using it to make informed opinions about the candidates running this year.
Students are in a great position to study and debate who has the “sustainable model,” he added.
Both Bernstine and Mustello talked about how important the election is this year and about Gov. Tom Wolf’s actions since the coronavirus pandemic has hit the nation.
Bernstine and Mustello both voted for overriding the governor’s veto. That measure failed earlier in the day.
Bernstine focused on the 18 votes that were needed to override the veto as a call for party members to do everything they can to keep the seats Republicans hold.
Echoing the calls to action from Kelly and Longo, Bernstine encouraged the people there to do what they can to get their friends and family registered and bring them to the polls.
Before ending his speech, Bernstine led the crowd in a chant of “four more years.”
State Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-Oil City and New Castle Mayor Chris Frye spoke to the crowd Wednesday night on the importance of the upcoming election.