LEBANON, OHIO -- President Trump capped off a week during which he was unusually engaged with the media by speaking directly to his supporters at an enthusiastic Make America Great Again rally in Lebanon, Ohio.
Trump made his first comments on first lady Melania Trump’s weeklong trip to Africa, saying she described the continent as “so beautiful, and yet, such incredible, in some cases, poverty, they need help, they definitely need help.”
“It opens your eyes to what’s going on around the world,” Trump continued. “You’re all very lucky in Ohio, that I can tell you.” Trump came under fire in January for describing immigrants from African countries, Haiti and El Salvador as hailing from “s---hole countries.”
Trump began his remarks on a confident note, trumpeting the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey.
“I’m really proud to report that earlier today we secured the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson,” Trump said. Trump said Brunson will make his way to Washington, D.C., Saturday. “We’ll say hello to him,” Trump said.
Trump also briefly addressed the victims of Hurricane Michael, saying that they are strong and will rebuild. “My administration has been in constant communication with state and local authorities. When we’re in trouble, we pull together like nobody else.”
Trump touched on one of the week’s most surprising events, a meeting in the Oval Office with Kanye West.
“Kanye West, what he did was pretty amazing yesterday,” Trump said, asserting he believes Republicans will win the African-American vote during the midterm elections.
GOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati weighed in on West, too: “I never thought I’d say this, but God bless Kanye West!”
Before the rally, attendees expressed enthusiasm about Trump’s meeting with West, telling ABC News they felt the meeting was “productive” and would bring people together.
Those supporters endured a chilly and drizzly fall evening at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Lebanon. The outdoor venue capacity was about 4,000, and most of the space was standing room only.
Upon arriving in Cincinnati Friday evening, Trump attended a fundraiser for Chabot, who is fighting for re-election against young upstart Aftab Pureval, currently serving as the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
Sen. Rob Portman also delivered remarks in support of GOP Senate candidate Jim Renacci. Renacci bashed Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown’s voting record as mirroring Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer.
“He votes like a Hollywood liberal, and he has received the most lobbyist money in the Senate,” Renacci claimed.
Trump stressed the importance of voting in the midterm elections, just 25 days away. “You know they say we have a majority, but if somebody has a cold, they can’t come in, we don’t have a majority anymore.”
But the most enthusiastic cheers of the night did not come during discussion of Ohio politicians, Ohio steel manufacturing jobs, or even Ohio football legend Jim Brown’s visit to the White House. Instead, the crowd was the loudest and most passionate about the newest U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh.
“He did us a tremendous service,” Trump said, “because we are more energized as Republicans, I think more than ever before.”