NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “So I’m thrilled to be in Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music, southern hospitality, and the great president Andrew Jackson.”
Those were nearly the first words of President Donald Trump, who visited Nashville for the first time since being elected as Commander in Chief.
The remarks came after he commented on the thousands of people in attendance, saying, “This is some crowd. You have to see outside; you wouldn’t even believe it.”
Trump took the stage at Municipal Auditorium after visiting The Hermitage to take part in an event honoring former President Andrew Jackson.
“I just came from a tour of Andrew Jackson’s home to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth,” he said. “Jackson’s life was devoted to one very crucial principle. He understood that real leadership means putting America first.”
Thousands who were able to make it inside the auditorium cheered as Trump touched on several hot button issues at the center of his presidency: immigration, terrorism, health care, and taxes.
“Don’t even think about it. We will build our wall. Don’t even think about it,” he said.
Trump noted there are “hundreds of bidders” and “everybody wants to build our wall,” saying it’s currently under design.
“The border by itself right now is doing very well. It’s becoming very strong. General Kelly has done a great job,” the president told the crowd.
Trump also touched Wednesday’s ruling from a federal judge in Hawaii that blocked his ban on travel from several majority-Muslim countries.
He called it an “unprecedented judicial overreach,” saying it was put in place for “the safety and security of our people.”
“We’re going to win. We’re going to keep our citizens safe,” the president said. “The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.”
The president also spoke on health care, saying, “There is one more thing we have to do. We are going to repeal and place horrible, disastrous Obamacare. If we leave Obamacare in place, millions and millions of people will be forced of their plans.”
Trump told the crowd our senators here in Tennessee told him we are “practically down to no insurers.”
“The insurers are fleeing. It’s a catastrophic situation,” he added.
Toward the end of his rally speech, the president said it’s time to embrace our destiny.
“Anything we can dream for our country we can achieve for our country. All we have to do is tap into that American pride that is swelling our hearts and stirring our souls, and we found that out in our last election.
“We are all Americans and the future truly belongs to us. The future belongs to all of you. This is your moment. This is your time. This is the moment history is made.
“All we have to do is put our own citizens first, and together we will make America strong again. We will make American wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again,” the president concluded.
Thousands of supporters waited in line for the chance to watch the president speak in person. The fire department told News 2 about 6,500 to 7,000 are believed to have made it inside.
“It was great! He’s a true American; he wants our country to be great again,” said Bobby Jarrett, a veteran who said he wanted to make sure he and his daughter saw Trump, even if it meant waiting for hours in the cold.
“I wanted her to see the president,” Jarrett said. “She likes Trump. She likes what he’s doing.”
Supporters leaving the rally were greeted by protesters, but their enthusiasm didn’t waver.
“It was great. He’s amazing and let’s make America great again!” noted Karen Horricks, who also waited for hours to make it inside.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m super proud to be here and proud to call Trump my president,” she told News 2.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Nashville to voice their discontent and concerns with Trump. They marched from the Juvenile Justice Center to Public Square Park, chanting and carrying signs.
“I came out today because Trump is going to promote his health care bill and I’m worried as somebody who is an amputee and somebody who has been denied health care before, before Obamacare. Obamacare allowed me to live my life and have health care,” Clayton Thomas told News 2.
Another protester said she also came out to voice her opposition to repealing Obamacare. Mary Gauthier told News 2 she’s a musician and many of her friends didn’t have health coverage until the Affordable Care Act came along.
“We always just had to do benefits for each other. When a musician got sick, we’d just throw a benefit,” she said. “And after Obamacare, we were able to get insured. So i’m here to fight for health insurance for all, particularly the people in Nashville who are my friends who are musicians who truly could never afford 15, 18 hundred, 2,500 a month health insurance bills.”