As new developments in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russia swirled Thursday night, President Donald Trump delivered a speech in Huntington, West Virginia, a state that favored him overwhelmingly during the presidential election.
"I'm here today to stand up against hatred, to stand up against intolerance, to stand up for rights and kindness that West Virginians have historically shown one another."
But gathered outside the venue were hundreds of West Virginians who insisted that Trump does not speak for them.
"There's many of us in West Virginia that did not vote for Donald Trump," Amie Maynard, an organizer with West Virginia Women's March, told the local West Virginia Metro News ahead of the president's speech. "West Virginia is known around the country as an area where Trump's support is the strongest and we think it's vital that the rest of our voices are heard as well."
While Trump used the campaign-style rally to denounce the Russia investigation as a "fake story," several progressive organizations—including Rise Up WV, West Virginia Indivisible, and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic—used the opportunity to voice their opposition to a president whose actions have "disgusted" them.
Carrying a sign that read simply "West Virginia Not for Haters," Sally Roberts-Wilson—a resident of Charleston, West Virginia—told the local Register-Herald, "I'm here today to stand up against hatred, to stand up against intolerance, to stand up for rights and kindness that West Virginians have historically shown one another."
"I'm here because I can't watch our democracy and our country fall into disrepair, to fall apart, and become a plutocracy," she continued. "Quite honestly, I can't stand by and do nothing."
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Given the recent attempts by the Republican Party to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid—both of which would have devastating effects on West Virginians—many protestors denounced Trump for his stated desire to sabotage insurance markets.
Michael Eisenberg, a resident of Roane County, told the local Herald-Dispatch he is battling cancer and that losing insurance would be a death sentence.
"I think it's disgusting for our president to deliberately sabotage the health markets in order to make the Affordable Care Act fail and have millions of our own people lose health insurance," Eisenberg said.
Trump's rally came as several recent polls found his approval ratings falling rapidly. As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, a Quinnipiac University national survey found that the percentage of Americans who approve of Trump's job performance has fallen to a new low of 33 percent. Americans particularly disliked Trump's support for the GOP's Obamacare repeal efforts.
Beverly Kimble, a resident of St. Albans, said that Trump's first months in office have shown that his promises to be the "voice" of the working class were hollow. Recent analyses have shown that Trump's proposed tax policies would overwhelmingly favor the wealthy.
"Trump doesn't care about us," Kimble concluded.