Donald Trump went to deep red Tennessee on Wednesday to salvage his already crumbling presidency with a campaign-style rally at Nashville Municipal Auditorium. He was likely sorely disappointed, though, as sections and sections of seats stood empty as he took the stage.
Video via local reporter Bridget Chapman:
— Bridget Chapman (@bchapman_WREG3) March 16, 2017
While Trump and his supporters are blaming the crowd shortage on tight security measures, forcing many to remain outside the arena during his speech, the rows of empty seats behind the president were hard to miss.
To make matters worse, the venue Trump spoke at was small relative to some of his past campaign events, with a maximum capacity of just 9,700. In the past, he bragged about filling larger stadiums – as president, he can’t even fill much smaller locations.
When it comes to the substance of Trump’s speech, there wasn’t much. It was essentially indistinguishable from those he delivered during the campaign, but unlike many of his rambling campaign speeches, he was able to stick largely to the same, boring script given to him by his handlers.
He reaffirmed his pledge to build a wasteful wall on the southern border, attacked the media as “fake,” and, more broadly, pretended that he was still a candidate instead of the leader of the free world.
It was so much like the campaign that the crowd even started chanting “lock her up!” when the president complained about the latest ruling that blocks his second version of the Muslim ban.
Trump: “when he deems … or she … fortunately, it will not be HILLARY-she”
Crowd: “LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!”
Election was 127 days ago. pic.twitter.com/Akive7e3S8
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 16, 2017
Trump said, “[The judge’s decision] is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach. The law and the constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration, when he or she – fortunately, it will not be Hillary she.”
At that point the crowd started chanting “lock her up!” and the president seemed to relish in the moment, strutting around the stage. But as former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau noted, the election was four months ago.
Trump takes a shot at Hillary during Nashville rally. Crowd chants “lock her up.” Trump says nothing.
The election was over 4 months ago.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 16, 2017
The goal is Trump’s visit to such friendly territory was obviously to gin up enthusiasm among the minority of people that still support him. Those who showed up were certainly motivated and still living in campaign mode, but the empty seats show that the Trump train is losing steam.