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Around the Water Cooler

Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

Trump makes first visit to Nashville as president

In his first visit to Nashville since being elected, President Donald J. Trump took the stage at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, talking to supporters at a rally on Wednesday evening.

As a member of the media, I was there soaking in the crowd, documenting the sounds surrounding the building and inside the arena. I wanted to get a firsthand perspective of what a President Trump rally was like after watching the mainstream media, and seeing how their depictions compared.

Despite being booed roughly 10 times during the evening for being part of the “dishonest” media, I enjoyed my experience at the president’s rally. I had to chuckle every time that it occurred and while roaming the streets I had to smile when asked by passersby if I was part of the “good” media and got some boos for wearing my press credentials.

In a time when members of both major parties constantly attack each other, one of the best sights of the day for me occurred when I was photographing some of the early protesters across the street from the auditorium.

While taking photos, a supporter of the president, wearing a backwards “Make America Great Again” red cap – who elected to not provide his name when asked – approached the anti-Trump crowd.

Rather than hurling insults or yelling at the group, instead the supporter approached the protestors, hoping to have a civil discussion. That request was met as both sides discussed certain issues, each refusing to give into each other’s claims, before concluding the meeting, by wishing one another the best.

As I continued to walk the streets, more protesters gathered, including numerous women wearing pink, supporting Planned Parenthood. At

President Donald Trump talks during a rally held at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday. Trump talked about health care, education, immigration, terrorism and other topics during his first visit to Nashville since being elected.
–Staff Photo by Zach Birdsong

the same time more and more supporters continued to arrive, hoping to get inside of the venue.

While walking the line looking for photos, I saw “The Daily Show’s” Jordan Klepper and Fox News anchor Jesse Watters interviewing people in line waiting to get inside the building. So, be sure to tune-in to a TV to watch those clips.

One of the final sights that caught my eye before heading into the venue was an argument between a protester and a few Trump supporters. The two sides yelled at each other regarding the comments from the infamous “Access Hollywood” 2005 video that featured vulgar comments about women made by the future president. As the argument continued to escalate, many others standing nearby begged both sides to end the discussion, as many in line had children in tow and didn’t want their kids hearing the language.

At about 4 p.m., I headed toward the media entrance, wanting to make sure that I would be able to get inside the building and ensure myself a spot to be able to get photos of the president. By 4:30 p.m., I was inside of Municipal Auditorium as the crowd continued to trickle in to the venue.

That crowd slowly made its way inside the building, but many of those who braved the chilly temperatures did not make it inside before the president’s speech concluded. In fact, Trump delayed the start of his speech nearly 30 minutes, to allow more people to make it inside. However, as he wrapped up his talk, many were still left standing in line.

Protesters and a President Donald Trump supporter talk about issues before a presidential rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday. The two sides held a civil discussion before parting ways, wishing each other the best.
–Staff Photo by Zach Birdsong

Not able to delay the rally any further, the 45th President of the United States took the stage at roughly 7:05 p.m. after being introduced by country artist Lee Greenwood who performed, “God Bless the USA.” Trump was met with a roar from the excited crowd, with many waving signs to show their support.

In a speech where the central themes were expected to be health care and school choice, the president touched very little on the subjects. Instead, in some ways, it felt to me like Trump returned to the campaign trail, firing up the crowd with his famous lines at rallies before the election, with the crowd echoing chants of “Build the wall,” and “Lock her up,” in response to Trump mentioning Hillary Clinton.

The president touched on his immigration policies, including discussing the Ninth Circuit Court and a federal court judge in Hawaii who ordered a halt to the newest version of his travel ban on Wednesday. Trump called it an “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

Those statements led to a crowd chant about the wall, which the president responded, “Don’t even think about it, we will build our wall.”

Nearly 30 minutes into his speech, Trump touched on health care. The president hammered Obamacare, calling it “disastrous,” while hyping the Republicans’ alternative outline.

Wrapping up his speech, Trump thanked his supporters for coming out to the rally and thanked those who turned out to vote for him. Before concluding, he told the crowd to embrace the country’s destiny.

“All we have to is put our own citizens first, and together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again,” he concluded.

Zach Birdsong can be reached by email at tnsprted@lcs.net or on Twitter @zachbirdsong.