Pres. Donald Trump made his first appearance in Boone County on Tuesday night to a huge, vocal crowd at Columbia Regional Airport.
Air Force One landed just after 6:30 p.m. and Pres. Trump and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley exited the plane together to tremendous applause.
The rally, organized by the GOP campaign committee centered around encouraging voters to get out on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and elect Hawley to the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The two are in a neck-and-neck battle for the U.S. Senate seat which could be critical to the Republicans keeping the senate majority. Polls across the state vary some – but most show the race as “even.”
Hawley spoke to the crowd for less than five minutes, but Trump spoke for more than an hour.
The president cited Hawley as “one of the greatest Republicans of Missouri” and said he would be traveling to Cape Girardeau on Monday.
Trump also addressed border security and his recent idea of eliminating birthright citizenship for children born to illegal residents.
“Hundreds of thousands of children of illegal immigrants are made instantly eligible for every privilege and benefit of American citizenship,” Trump said.
“All of you, you get nothing more than they do. They’re full citizens and it’s costing us many, many millions of dollars a year.”
Trump said he favors legal immigration, but they need to be chosen by “merit” not via a “lottery.”
The president also bragged about the “thriving” U.S. and Missouri economy, noting the the U.S. currently boasts the “lowest rate of African American unemployment in centuries.” He also said Missouri’s economy was the best its been in decades.
Republicans and Trump fans began arriving at the airport area, parking at the Cartwright Industrial and Technology Park in the early-morning hours on Thursday. By middle of the afternoon, thousands were attempting to get to the airport, jamming traffic on Hwy 63 and parking up and down the highway as well as along Route H. Some fans noted on social media that their FitBits and Apple Watches were telling them they had hiked three and four miles to get to the airport hanger.
Before Air Force One arrived, Republican candidates Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer addressed the crowd as well as Gov. Mike Parson.