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A busload of Chattanoogans made the trek to Nashville to hear President Donald Trump speak Wednesday, and although not all of them made it inside the auditorium, they were still pleased with his message.
"It was not a speech that he read, it was not on the teleprompter, he simply said it off the top of his head, and I think that was great," John Anthony said after the speech. "He gave a good message that what we in the public really want to hear. We who voted for him, this is what we want to hear — that he's trying to unite America, he's trying to make our country good."
Trump took the stage Wednesday evening later than expected as long lines of supporters waited in the cold to get into Municipal Auditorium because of a security bottleneck and confusion, according to the Tennessean. Over the course of the day, the line of people grew several blocks long, circling the perimeter of the state Capitol.
Anthony stood in the cold trying to get in to hear the president for most of the day, but ultimately he didn't make it inside and had to watch the speech on a cellphone. Still, he said, the trip was well worth it and he had the opportunity to meet plenty of other supporters.
"We don't all agree with everything the president is doing right now and I think that's a healthy thing, and yet one thing that I found from talking to a lot of people in the crowd is we trust in the man's judgment and that's so important," he said.
"Even though I don't agree with, let's say maybe, [Betsy] DeVos as secretary of education, at the end of the day he is the person who calls the shots and makes the decisions, and I think he's going to tell each of his cabinet members, 'This is what I need you to do.'"
Douglas Mashburn, a Signal Mountain man who traveled with Anthony on the bus, did make it inside and said watching such a rally on television pales in comparison to the experience of being there in person.
"I was impressed," he said. "We stood out in the cold from 2:20 p.m. to almost 7 p.m. and finally got in. It was an impressive crowd and very, very enthusiastic."
He said the thing that stuck out most to him from the president's message were his comments about his new travel ban that was frozen by Hawaii U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson just hours before.
Trump told his supporters the ban is perfectly legal and within his power to enact, and Mashburn said he was glad to hear the president speak on such a current topic.
"He was bringing us up to date," Mashburn said.
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at email@example.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.