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Trump Holds 'Campaign Rally For America' In Florida


We'll start the program today in Florida where thousands of people gathered this evening in an airport hangar to show their support for President Trump. A White House spokeswoman called it a campaign rally for America. It was also a chance to rally the president's spirits after a difficult first month in the White House. NPR's Scott Horsley is on the line with us from Melbourne, Fla., where the rally took place. Hi, Scott.


MARTIN: So let's hear more about this event. You know, we often see presidents go out on the road when they want to push something, particularly like a piece of legislation. What was the purpose in this event?

HORSLEY: One of Donald Trump's favorite things to do during the presidential campaign was to bask in the adoration of big crowds. And, Michel, I think he's missed that in the last four weeks. You know, it can be lonely in the White House, especially when things are not going exactly the way you'd like them to. So that's one reason he wanted to hold this big rally. It was organized, not by the White House, but by Trump's campaign committee. The president said he wanted to be among friends and among the people.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want to be in a room filled with hard-working American patriots who love their country, who salute their flag and who pray for a better future.

HORSLEY: Trump also said he wanted to speak directly to his supporters unfiltered by the news media. Remember this president spent a lot of the campaign excoriating the news media, and the people who support him are not likely to be thrown off by some negative headlines.

MARTIN: Well, you know, speaking of the media, Scott, the president faced a skeptical crowd of reporters on Thursday when he said that his administration was running like a fine-tuned machine at that sort of epic 77-minute press conference. What are his supporters saying there?

HORSLEY: You know, there was a lot of skepticism among the Washington reporters, but people here seem unfazed by the firing of the president's national security adviser, the withdrawal of his nominee to be the labor secretary in the face of GOP opposition. Of course, the president's travel ban is still on hold because of the federal courts. Trump seemed genuinely hurt by some of the bad press he has been getting, but people like James Evert who were here in the crowd tonight think this rally could be a tonic for the president.

JAMES EVERT: Living in Washington and dealing with all the bureaucracy and all the media in light of the bias, you know, you probably get, you know, berated by all the negativity. And then you come to one of these things - is probably a refreshing moment. This is OK. These are the grass-of-the-roots people. These are hard-working Americans, and they're here to see me and to root me on and to re-encourage me and kind of revive my momentum.

HORSLEY: Brevard County where the rally was held is Trump country. Trump won this county by about 57 percent back in November. He doesn't have unanimous support here. There was a small protest outside the airport where the rally was held. But Trump supporters feel like that opposition just means the president is rattling the establishment which is what they feel like they voted for him.

MARTIN: Scott, before we let you go, President Trump is spending a third straight weekend at his home, his estate in Florida Mar-a-Lago. What's he going to do there?

HORSLEY: Well, he spent this morning at the Trump International Golf Course, although aides would not say whether he actually played golf. Tomorrow, he's going to be interviewing four candidates to fill the vacancy left by the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Two candidates are no longer in contention. One, Robert Harwood took himself out partly out of a dispute with the White House overstaffing. Although, they were also family and financial considerations. David Petraeus is also no longer a candidate, but Trump says he'll be talking to four contenders for that important security job. He's also going be talking with his health secretary tomorrow, Tom Price, about Obamacare. And he'll be meeting with his newly confirmed budget director Mick Mulvaney.

MARTIN: That's NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley traveling with the president in Melbourne, Fla. Scott, thank you.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.