There are few things Donald Trump likes more than adoring crowds. And the diplomats with Poland’s leading Law and Justice Party seemingly knew that when laying out Trump’s short trip to Poland.
Law and Justice politicians from all over Poland informed their supporters over social media in the weeks leading up to Trump’s visit that free buses would be provided to anyone who wanted to attend Trump’s speech Thursday to the Polish people in Warsaw.
The nationalist party that vaulted President Andrzej Duda to power in 2015 had worked to roll out the red carpet for Trump, which was crammed with large crowds of flag-waving Poles in sun-splashed Krasinski Square.
Constituents from as far away as the Polish border with Slovakia had been invited to see Trump speak. Paul Jones, the US ambassador to Poland, also appeared on Polish media to invite people to attend the speech.
The strategy is two-fold for the conservative party: Poland is known for being friendly territory for American presidents and they have a reputation to uphold. Some local reports indicated that Polish government representatives promised people close to Trump a large crowd in Warsaw.
But the plan also nods to Trump’s love of being showered in praise, something he has shown closer to home, when he routinely leaves the White House for raucous, campaign-style events in pro-Trump states.
“I hear we have a big crowd,” for the speech, Trump said at a news conference Thursday morning.
The Law and Justice group from Cz?stochowa, Poland — a city more than 130 miles southwest of Warsaw — informed its supporters on Facebook weeks ago that free transportation was available for anyone who wants to “take part in the event of the President of USA, Donald Trump visit.”
The group, looking to drive up turnout for Trump’s visit, also invited supporter to a “patriotic picnic” at Warsaw’s National Stadium after the presidential visit.
Law and Justice Party headquarters declined to comment on questions from CNN on the efforts.
A similar message was posted by Stanis?aw Pi?ta, a Law and Justice politician who was elected to the lower house of the Polish parliament in 2005.
Pi?ta, a message on his Facebook page said, was “organizing a trip/transportation for a “meeting” with President of the USA, Donald Trump, to Warsaw.”
Lukasz Schreiber, another member of Poland’s parliament, invited anyone from the area of Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in Northwest Poland to travel on a free bus to Warsaw.
“We are organizing a transportation from the whole area of Kujawsko-Pomorskie region. Everything is payed for and the opportunity is unique,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s probably the first meeting like this of the current President of the USA in Europe.”
And so did Grzegorz Puda, a Law and Justice politician from the southern Bielsko-Biala region of Poland.
To be sure, this is standard practice for political events in Poland, where large crowds are sometimes built by busing groups of supporters from surrounding areas. But the effort to build a crowd for Trump is a concerted attempt — with billboards and posters around Warsaw advertising Trump’s speech — to cram the square adjacent to the capitol city’s Old Town with thousands of supporters.
American presidents are used to warm welcomes to Poland and Poles have long looked to the United States to provide their country with a stable relationship. And early indications are that Trump has delivered: The United States agreed overnight to sell Patriot missiles to Poland, according to the Polish Defense Ministry.
Richard Nixon, visiting in 1972 as the first president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to visit a country behind the Iron Curtain, was greeted with a hero’s welcome. Poles lined the streets all the way from the airport, with some holding signs, “Nixon rescue Poland.”
George H.W. Bush’s trip in 1989, including a speech to the Polish National Assembly, was a seminal moment for US-Polish relations. Bush met with newly elected anti-communist leaders, but possibly his greatest contribution may have been how he modeled a different style of politics to the Polish people. Poles were fascinated at the difference between Bush and their old Soviet leaders when photos emerged of the American president running through ?azienki Park in Warsaw.
Bill Clinton, who worked to get Poland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, visited twice to much fanfare and George W. Bush and Barack Obama both visited Poland three times as president.