Trump Visits Evansville, Endorses Braun

Aug 30, 2018

Thousands were expected to attend a rally in Evansville where President Donald Trump spoke Thursday night. 

This is the president's 10th campaign visit to Indiana. Trump spoke about trade, immigration and coal. He’s also supporting Republican Mike Braun in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Trump supporters started lining up in Evansville mid-Thursday morning. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people were expected at the venue, both supporting and protesting the president.

"Evansville, you are very, very special people," says Trump after he walked onto the stage. 

Trump turned his attention to the U.S. Senate race early in his remarks in Evansville. 

"You're going to beat Joe Donnelly, because we need the votes," Trump says. 

The president endorsed Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun. During the primary election, Braun touted himself as the candidate most aligned with Trump.

"This man needs someone who makes promises and keeps them," Braun says. "Not someone who makes promises in Indiana and then does something different in D.C." 

Braun criticized Donnelly's voting history, citing Affordable Care Act repeals and the tax cut. 

"A vote for Mike Braun is a vote to – have you ever heard this one? – make America great again," Trump says.

Trump criticized Donnelly's voting history, citing an Indianapolis Star story on Donnelly's effectiveness as a senator. 

“We’ve replaced failed democrat lawmakers with America First republicans, and it’s happening. And we need people like Mike Braun,” Trump says.

Before the president arrived at the rally, Gov. Eric Holcomb spoke to the crowd. He praised Trump for cutting federal taxes and rolling back bank regulations.

"Now America's economy isn't just growing, it's roaring!" Holcomb says.

The president remarked on the success of the economy and says jobs are coming back to the U.S. 

"We are reclaiming our nation's proud history of manufacturing," he says.

Trump also remarked on the new trade deal with Mexico, and the progress the administration has made negotiating a new deal with Canada to replace NAFTA. 

"I'll tell you, this country is tired of getting ripped off by other countries," Trump says. 

The president focused on new investment in Indiana's steel industry. U.S. Steel Corporation recently announced a new $750 million investment for modernization upgrades in Gary.

“We’re building a new steel industry and it’s an amazing thing to watch because America is winning again and America is being respected again,” Trump says.

However, Indiana University economist David Audretsch says that investment doesn't necessarily mean more jobs. 

“We do know that it certainly seems like the protective industries, like in steel, that’s not actually going to benefit. That’s not going to lead to a lot of jobs, that’s not going to hang on to a lot of jobs,” Audretsch says.

Trump also touted his administration's efforts on repealing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Trump's speech was briefly interrupted as a protester was arrested and removed from the Ford Center. 

"Where the hell did she come from?" he said, as the crowd chanted "U.S.A."

After a woman was removed from the rally, Trump criticized the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. 

"You're going to read headlines tomorrow, 'major protests at rally,'" Trump says.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the event, including a rally called “This is Our Home, These are Our Voices.” Wendy Bredhold is spokeswoman for the rally.

"It's entirely organized by local groups and it's about the issues that impact us," Bredhold says.

The rally was a joint effort of the Sierra Club, Indivisible Evansville, The Tri-State Alliance, and Our Revolution Evansville. One protester, Karen Supak, dressed as a handmaid from the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale." 

Supak says she wanted to draw attention to women's issues. 

"I’m concerned about the current judicial nominee for the Supreme Court and some of the protections to women’s rights that may be rolled back if that judge were to be seated on the Supreme Court,” Supak says. 

Protesters from Dale, Indiana, drove to protest a proposed coal-to-diesel plant to be built within their town limits.

"[The Indiana Department of Environmental Management] needs to do better... we're in the fight for our lives," says Dale resident Mary Hess.

Police broke up a fight outside the Ford Center. 

This story has been updated with remarks from the president's speech.

WNIN's Steve Burger and John Gibson, and Indiana Public Broadcasting's Brandon Smith and Samantha Horton contributed reporting to this story.