President Donald Trump can still put on a show—as he showed thousands of people at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia on Wednesday.
According to organizers, people traveled from as far as New York to hear the President speak. The 9,000 seat arena was filled to capacity.
“I am thrilled to be back in the very, very beautiful state of West Virginia,” Trump greeted, “and I am proud to stand before you and celebrate the hard work of you people, who are the absolute backbone of America.”
Trump’s appearance included what he had termed beforehand as a “big announcement.” The rally included West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Democrat, who announced at the rally that he was flipping parties—and changing his registration to Republican the next day. Justice had just been elected as a Democrat in November 2016.
Trump’s speech raised eyebrows for its forceful response to the ongoing Russia investigation.
He went after Democrats for their “obsession” with Russia. Trump gave them an ultimatum—saying Democrats can continue to investigate “the Russian hoax or they can serve the interests of the American people.” He added that the Russia scandal was a “fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most of all demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution.”
But Trump soon turned to his bread-and-butter issue: the economy, especially in hard-hit central states like West Virginia.
He explained that he had met with Governor Justice a few weeks ago in the Oval Office, where they discussed how “we are all working together to open up the coal mines in this state, and also, importantly, to create jobs in furniture manufacturing and other forms of manufacturing.”
Trump added: “But Governor Justice did something very important tonight: he showed the country that our agenda rises above left or right. It’s an agenda for all of the people, especially for the tens of millions of forgotten Americans. They’re not so forgotten anymore, I will tell you. You’ve proved it. Countless citizens, Democrat, Republican, independent, have been neglected and ignored by Washington. But we will make sure they are never ignored again.”
Trump continued: “We know there are powerful forces in Washington who want to stop it. But we won’t let them. We are fighting for every American who’s been overlooked, pushed aside, or told to put their dreams on hold. But we will win. And we’re winning now.”
Trump’s hero’s welcome in Huntington, West Virginia, wasn’t unexpected: Trump won 68 percent of the vote in the Mountain State, and remains incredibly popular:
According to Hoppy Kercheval, a radio talk show host in West Virginia who was interviewed on CNN, explained Trump’s enduring support: “Trump is still very strong [in West Virginia], and it’s less about party than populism. Trump tapped into the anger and frustration in rural America. Elites want to paint that as racism and xenophobia… But, West Virginia and rural America has a series of socioeconomic problems—drugs, economy, family breakdown—and they feel like they are being ignored, especially by the national Democratic Party.”