As nationwide censure of President Donald Trump and his controversial political acts rises, the Michigan Trump Republicans hoped to deflect attention from the criticisms and focus instead on rallying support for his reelection by holding meetings in multiple Michigan towns.

The Novi event, which was third in the group’s tour, was held Monday night at an IHOP restaurant to give Donald Trump supporters a chance to show their continued approval of the president and learn of ways to get involved with Trump Republicans.

The meeting also drew in members of the Metro Detroit Political Action Network, who gathered outside the IHOP to oppose the event taking place inside and garnered the support of drivers who honked to show their solidarity with the anti-Trump protesters.

Inside the restaurant, Meshawn Maddock, co-creator of Michigan Trump Republicans, emphasized the group’s goals to elect Trump Republicans to offices, including her husband Matt Maddock who is running for local state representative. She said an additional goal was to stand in opposition to Indivisible, a group with over 800 localized branches in Michigan dedicated to resisting Donald Trump’s agenda.

“So really, the Michigan Trump Republicans was formed to be the anti-venom for Indivisible,” Meshawn Maddock said. “I want (my husband) to have a Republican governor… all the way down to city council … that’s the way to drain the swamp.”

Kevin Tatulyan, Coalitions Vice Chair of Michigan Republican party, lamented the backlash the president faced after the campaign was over and encouraged attendees not to trust liberals or Hollywood but rather their own hearts.

“Look at the media: Trump says ‘make America great again,’ they say, ‘Trump’s a racist,’ ” Tatulyan said, as the crowd clapped in agreement. “… is this not 100 percent true? This is ridiculous.”

Trump has also discussed his low tolerance of the media and news outlets such as CNN. The Michigan Trump Republicans share his distaste: volunteers wore “Fake News Network (FNN)” T-shirts, Maddock mentioned that they don’t like press to be present at events and a cameraman had been asked to leave once before.

The president has also been under scrutiny regarding his alleged ties to the Russian government and allegations the Russian state interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

Marian Sheridan, leader of the Lakes Area Tea Party, said the claims were far-fetched and unsubstantiated.

“Show us the evidence,” Sheridan said.

According to The New York Times, Donald Trump Jr. had received an email saying that damaging information regarding Hillary Clinton was potentially a part of the Russian government’s effort to get Donald Trump elected as president, prior to Donald Trump’s son setting up a meeting with a Kremlin-associated Russian lawyer.

Joseph Fournier, a co-founder of MDPAN, felt that those involved in the event displayed support for a regime that did not support many underrepresented groups of U.S. citizens.

“It’s just really shocking that there are any businesses in this area in particular that feel comfortable endorsing an agenda which is openly fascist and bigoted,” Fournier said. “There is a cost if you publicly endorse hatred.”

When asked why he felt it important to lend a counter-voice to the Michigan Trump Republicans event, Fournier said he is gay and the cause is personal for him.

“I am a human being,” Fournier said. “Can you imagine if a family brought their 13-year old gay son and he’s not out of the closet, and he’s sitting there in a den of people that are saying the kind of things those people are saying?”

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