President Trump holds Virginia rally in Newport News

Trump: 'This is most important election in history of our country'
President Trump to hold Make America Great Again rally in Newport News on September 25
President Trump to hold Make America Great Again rally in Newport News on September 25
Posted at 11:52 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-26 00:37:04-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- President Donald Trump wrapped up a two-day campaign swing Friday that is ticking off boxes, both geographically and with key constituencies.

The president ended the day with an outdoor rally at the Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport.

"Hello, Newport News. I know it well," Trump told the crowd. "My father and I had a couple of little jobs here and they were great. When the ships came in, they were packed. When the ships went out, they were stone cold empty. I said, 'This is a different kind of place.' But we loved it."

Earlier Friday, Trump appealed to Hispanic voters in Florida, who could determine the election outcome in a crucial battleground state. He then visited Atlanta for an event on Black economic empowerment before the stop in Virginia.

"Nobody has done more -- for many communities -- but I always say for the Black community. Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump since Abraham Lincoln," Trump told the crowd. "So we flew to Atlanta and we had an unbelievable two hours... We had a lot of champion fighters. A lot of great people."

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President Trump to hold Make America Great Again rally in Newport News on September 25
President Donald Trump speaks at a Make America Great Again rally Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

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The president, who is trying to chip away at his Democratic rival’s advantage with Black and Hispanic voters, joked that he only learned of the Virginia rally about an hour prior to his visit.
"And then we flew to Washington where we had a round-table," Trump said. "And then I say, 'Well, that's it for the night.' You know this starts at 6 in the morning. So I said, 'That's it for the night. I'll go back home to the White House. 'No, sir. You're going to Virginia, sir.' I asked the question about an hour ago, 'Where am I going?'"

The president said he asked staffers how many people had turned out for the rally and was told "a hell of a lot of people."

"We're going to put a heavy play in for Virginia and I think we can win the state," the president told the crowd after they chanted, "four more years."

Hillary Clinton scored 49.8 percent (1,981,473) of the vote in Virginia to Trump's 44.4 percent (1,769,443) in 2016.

Trump’s campaign has been struggling to make headway against Joe Biden, but believes the president's support is growing among Latinos, including in Florida.

"Thirty-nine days from now we're going to win Virginia. We're going to win North Carolina," Trump said. "This is the most important election in the history of our country."

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Health officials warn of public health threat at rally

Health officials warned of a public health threat since the rally drew thousands to the Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport.

In a letter, Department of Public Health District Director, Natasha Dwamena, said that large of a gathering would break Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order, banning gatherings of more than 250 people.

In that letter, Dwamena said the rally poses a "concerning public health risk," and she requests for the event to be canceled, rescheduled, or scaled down.

A Trump campaign official told WTKR that every rally attendee would get a temperature check prior to admission, would have access to plenty of hand sanitizer, and would be provided masks -- which they were encouraged to wear.

In response to concern from health officials, Courtney Parella, Deputy National Press Secretary for Donald Trump, sent the following statement:

"If people can riot in the streets, loot from small businesses, or, in the Virginia governor’s case, take a mask-less stroll along the beach, then they can peacefully gather under the First Amendment to hear the president of the United States address the American people.”