President Donald Trump came to Nashville Wednesday, two months after taking office, to address thousands in Nashville with a speech that sounded reminiscent of his campaign rhetoric. The 45th president emphasized health care and immigration, but failed to touch on poverty or homelessness.
"This is the hour when history is made. All we have to do is put our own citizens first,” Trump said, standing in front of a roaring crowd at the downtown Municipal Auditorium.
Marquee at Municipal Auditorium March 15.
The president spent time criticizing a Hawaii federal judge’s decision from earlier Wednesday that temporarily barred the administration’s executive order that would ban travel from six Muslim-majority countries. Trump told the crowd he would fight the order, adding, "The order blocked was a watered-down version of the first order.”
Trump also vowed to repeal Obamacare, drawing a loud and enthusiastic crowd response. He threw his support behind the Republican-led effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, adding that there would be additional phases of the reform. He did not outline specifics, but said that the final phase would include lowering the cost of medicine.
“Your senators just told me that in your state you’re down to practically no insurance,” Trump said. "The bill that I will ultimately sign will get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and your family," Trump said.
Ahead of the speech, Trump was expected to touch on health care and education. His only nod to education in the 40-minute speech: “We will give our children the right to attend the school of their choice.”
Trump supporters attend rally in Nashville.
The president didn’t touch on poverty or affordable housing – one of Nashville’s most pressing needs in the wake of the city’s economy boom. Trump’s administration announced last week it was considering more than $6 billion in cuts to HUD’s budget, which would eliminate several community development grants that fund services including meal assistance. Fair housing advocates have said the significant cuts could be devastating to cities and low-income families.
The event got off to a late start as organizers delayed with a speech from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and music from The Gatlin Brothers while they attempted the fill the remaining seats in the upper deck of the room. Thousands spent hours in a line winding down James Robertson Parkway.
Rikky Wright attends rally in support of Trump.
Nashville resident Rikky Wright, originally from Nigeria, came to the rally to show her support for Trump, and specifically his plans for immigration reform. “I came (into this country) legally, I know what it takes. I cannot stand here, knowing what I went through to get my Visa, and let someone come here get all the benefits that I cannot get. I support him and his work,” she said.
Anna Courchaine, a 25 year old from from Madisonville, Tenn., attended the event with friends. “We were so excited that President Trump is coming to Tennessee. As the American people, we are sick of the politically correct. We love that he is not a politician; he’s not politically correct.”
Thousands of protesters rallied before and after the event with signs criticizing the president and his policies.
Bonnie Bogen held a sign outside of the event protesting Trump’s visit. “I do not believe he is working for the American people, in particular the people of Tennessee,” she said. After standing in line for hours, she was unable to get into the event. “Whether it comes to health care, the environment or education, those are all things that are vitally important for people in Tennessee. I don’t think that Donald Trump is standing up for those things.”
Bonnie Bogen joined protesters at Trump's rally in Nashville.
Before attending the rally, Trump visited The Hermitage, the historic home of former President Andrew Jackson, and laid a wreath at Jackson's tomb in honor of the 7th president’s 250th birthday.