Trump draws cheers, criticism during Nashville visit

A political and media circus rolled in to Nashville Saturday morning, complete with balloons, cheering crowds, chanting protesters and the biggest name in American politics: Donald Trump.

The Republican presidential front runner spoke at an event hosted by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, a conservative group not affiliated with the Republican National Convention typically considered to the right of the GOP establishment.

Although the Rocketown venue south of downtown Nashville is typically reserved for small concerts or used as a skate park, more than 500 people craned their necks, stood on chairs and pushed through crowds to get a glimpse of the controversial business tycoon.

“We’re going to take this country back and make it so great again, so strong again,” Trump said at the beginning of a meandering speech that drew consistent cheers and applause from the audience.

Trump was quick to point to numerous national and state polls that show him leading other, more experienced politicians in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He kept returning to highlight those polls in a speech that touched on health care, Veterans rights, national debt, his television show “The Apprentice,” his books, his family and a slew of other topics.

No other topic from Trump has consistently garnered as much attention or criticism as his take on immigration, though. After labeling most immigrants from Mexico as rapists and thieves, Trump said Saturday he employees many Hispanics within his private enterprise.

But he also criticized the concept of “sanctuary citizens”; conservatives have blasted policies that allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the country after committing, at times, minor crimes. However, they point to several cases where people have committed heinous crimes after being allowed to remain in the United States.

“The illegal immigrants, in many cases…are treated better than our veterans,” Trump said, adding many immigrants “come into the country and kill members of families.”

At least two hundred immigration rights activist and labor rights activists rallied outside the event. With banners that read “We are not criminals, we are Tennessee,” they marched to chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Trump spoke for a little more than an hour. He said he loved Nashville, touting the Grand Ole Opry and country music, while noting that he purchased the property where Trump Tower now sits in Manhattan from a Nashville company. Fans from all over the country stayed to try and get a picture or autograph with Trump.

This is the second time Trump has spoken in Nashville this year. He also attended the National Rifle Convention’s annual meeting in April, along with many other GOP presidential contenders.

This is a developing story. Check for more information as it becomes available.

Reach Dave Boucher at 615-259-8892 and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1. 

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Source: Tennessean
Trump draws cheers, criticism during Nashville visit


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