Trump Responds To Court Halting Revised Travel Ban

Mar 16, 2017
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. As we heard, the president's public statements formed part of the case against him. The judge wrote that the court didn't have to examine the, quote, "veiled psyche" of the president because he'd said so much, like a press release calling for a total and complete ban of Muslims entering the United States. This statement by the judge did not stop the president from making more statements in a rally last night in Nashville, Tenn. NPR's Don Gonyea was there. He's on the line.

Don, how's Nashville treating you?

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Nashville's great as always, yes.

INSKEEP: Wonderful city, wonderful city.

So what was it like last night?

GONYEA: The rally was noisy. The crowd was enthusiastic. It was at one of those old municipal auditoriums downtown. They let the president know they like what he's doing. And he got word just before the rally about the judge's ruling in Hawaii, and he came onstage defiant, even angry. You could tell he was amped up, even by the standards of a Trump rally. And clearly, part of that was his response to the news about the judge. Just give a listen here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You don't think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you? No.

This ruling makes us look weak, which, by the way, we no longer are. Believe me.

GONYEA: He said he's been working 24 hours a day to keep the country safe from terrorism. He noted that this is the second time a judge from the 9th Circuit has, as he puts it, improperly halted this order, the original one and now the revised order, which Trump called watered-down. And he said we should just go back to the original order.

INSKEEP: Although when he said watered-down version of the first order, he suggested to some future judge, I would imagine, that if you didn't like the first order, you can also not like the second order.

This was not what the rally was supposed to be about, though. The president was there to promote a Republican health care plan. How did he do that?

GONYEA: It is the first time he has been out in the country really making a big public push for the new health care law, the one that has been proposed. He gave it the hard sell. Let me take you there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: It provides tax credits to people to purchase the care that is rightfully theirs. The bill that I will ultimately sign, that will be a bill where everybody is going to get into the room, and we're going to get it done. We'll get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and for your family.

(CHEERING)

GONYEA: Trump also accused Democratic leaders of making dishonest attacks on the bill, but he did not mention strong opposition coming from some Republicans in Congress who do not like it.

There was a lot of time to wander around in this crowd before Trump's arrival. These, again, are mostly hardcore Trump supporters. And I heard a lot of comments like this from 25-year-old Anna Courchaine who drove three hours to get here. She talked about those Republican critics.

ANNA COURCHAINE: I think President Trump - he knows how much to push them, and I trust him to do what he wants to do with that.

GONYEA: And she added this.

COURCHAINE: But I can say, whatever plan that President Trump is putting forth, I'm going to back it 100 percent because I trust him.

GONYEA: So at one point, in the crowd before Trump arrived, there was a commotion over on one side of the floor. It turns out Press Secretary Sean Spicer was spotted, and he got held up for quite a while posing for selfies with his fans, including 44-year-old Chris Gallaher.

(SOUNDBITE OF BACKSTREET BOYS' "I WANT IT THAT AWAY")

CHRIS GALLAHER: I feel that he's doing a great job and that he's holding the media's feet to the fire. And when - he calls them out on it just like the president has.

GONYEA: Gallaher works in marketing, and his employer does not provide health insurance. And, he says, he did not sign up for Obamacare on principle. He's healthy and is willing to go without insurance. He is not ready, though, to just assume anything the president and Republican leadership agreed to will be great.

GALLAHER: I trust President Trump to get in a room and to work out a plan. Do I trust him to sign it without me seeing it? No. And I wouldn't want anybody to do that.

GONYEA: But still, many here are more than ready to cut Trump some slack for promising more on the campaign trail than the proposed bill accomplishes. Here's 48-year-old Cheri Urie. She owns a dance studio.

CHERI URIE: He's very ambitious. You know what - what's wrong with that? Be ambitious because - go for a hundred percent, 110 percent. And if you get 75 percent of that, what are you going to lose?

GONYEA: So that's all at the rally. But now let's go elsewhere in Nashville for an alternative view.

As you know, this town's loaded with musicians.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR STRUMMING)

GONYEA: That's John Rey Reed. He's tuning up in the tiny side room of his house that doubles as a studio. That's where we talked. He is a self-employed songwriter with a house-painting business on the side. He's on Obamacare, and because of preexisting conditions says it's the first health care plan he has had in decades. Reed survived kidney cancer. Now he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

JOHN REY REED: I've been very happy with my care.

GONYEA: But he is troubled now by what he's seeing in Washington.

REED: I don't think he should chuck the baby out with the bathwater. You've got a system in place. Tweak it, you know. Republicans are just hellbent on a partisan thing - we said we were going to repeal it; we have to repeal it or else we're breaking our promise.

GONYEA: Reed never thought of himself as a political songwriter, but he goes over to the stereo and plays me just a bit of his latest CD and a song that he now says could double as a message to Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AIN'T NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THE WRONG THING")

REED: (Singing) There ain't no right way to do the wrong thing.

GONYEA: So Steve, those are just some voices from the city of Nashville, where President Trump spoke last night.

INSKEEP: It's like the middle of the campaign already, Don, and it's three and a half years away. Can we expect more of this?

GONYEA: (Laughter) Oh, it feels a lot like the campaign. President Trump popped into Air Force One, the press cabin, on the way home. When he was asked about those plans, he says yeah, they'll do these about every couple of weeks. He said, quote, "we're going to have some fun."

INSKEEP: OK. That's NPR's Don Gonyea in Nashville on this morning after President Trump's travel order suffered two court losses, one in Hawaii, one in Maryland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.