“I felt really an obligation to come here today to say hello to the people of North Carolina,” President Donald Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters upon his arrival at the Asheville Regional Airport on Aug. 24.
Trump touched down in Marine One from Charlotte at about 2:53 p.m. From the airport, the president traveled via motorcade to Flavor 1st Growers and Packers on Banner Farm Road in Mills River.
“You know, we worked out a program where all of the food that was being wasted goes to people and helping people during the pandemic,” the president said of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, funded through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Flavor 1st partners with Baptists on Mission to pack some of the boxes for the program.
Trump then turned his attention to the coronavirus and other issues, as well as the Republican National Convention, which kicked off earlier in the day.
Vaccines against COVID-19, Trump said, “are going to be, I believe, announced very soon.” He also touted the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Aug. 23 emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma to treat the disease. “Hopefully you won’t need it, but we have it and remdesivir and so many others,” Trump said.
New COVID-19 cases, Trump asserted, are going down; according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the U.S. has decreased from a peak of nearly 67,000 on July 24 to roughly 43,000 on Aug. 23, the latest day for which data is available. “But it’s going to be fading and it is starting to fade. Florida’s getting much better; California is getting much better,” he said, urging crowd members to “look at the tremendous success we’ve had compared to other places.”
The president touted his administration’s record before and during the pandemic. “As you know, prior to the plague coming in from China, we hit numbers the likes of which have never been seen. Our employment numbers. Every number. Stock market. Now you look at it today: The stock market is just about set to break the all-time record. … To me, that’s like a leading indicator. Everything’s following. The economy’s going to come back. Next year, we’re going to have one of the best years economically and in other ways that we’ve ever had before.”
Trump gave a shoutout to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, formerly the representative for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district, which now stretches from the Asheville area west to the state line. “And he’s going to have a great young man take his place,” Trump said, referring to Republican candidate Madison Cawthorn.
“This has been a real love fest between North Carolina and Trump, right?” the president asked. The crowd responded with loud cheers and calls of “We love you.”
With additional reporting and photography by Cindy Kunst.