Trump connects with local supporters at airport

WHEELING — The public turned out Wednesday to cheer President Donald Trump’s arrival in West Virginia, and he took the time to return their admiration.

More than 100 supporters were present to greet Trump when Air Force One touched down at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport. He had been expected to arrive at about 5:30 p.m., but the landing occurred just before 6 p.m.

Those present waited patiently for the door of Air Force One to open and Trump to step out onto West Virginia soil. Chants of “U-S-A…U-S-A.” arose from the crowd.

When Trump stepped out, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore, R-West Virginia, was with him. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice awaited them at the bottom of the airplane stairs, where the presidential limousine was parked.

But Trump didn’t get into the vehicle. He instead walked over to greet the enthusiastic supporters standing on the tarmac.

Jayme Dixon of Wellsburg had hoped she might get to see Trump up close, and maybe shake his hand. They met briefly and Trump signed the t-shirt she was wearing.

“Cool, really cool,” Dixon said of the encounter. “I’m the rally fanatic. I’m all excited.”

Jim Norman of Wheeling had his Trump hat signed by the president.

“I think it’s the greatest thing,” he said. “Yes, I was impressed that he signed my hat, and I knew that he would.”

Following his meeting with supporters, Trump joined Capito and Justice in the presidential limousine for the ride to WesBanco Arena. Trump was to appear there for a private campaign fundraiser hosted by Robert E. Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy.

The visit to Wheeling on Wednesday was Trump’s second to “The Friendly City” since being sworn in as president in 2017. He also made stops in Wheeling and St. Clairsville during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“It’s always an honor to have the president of the United States come to your hometown, and it doesn’t matter who he is,” said Dolph Santorine of Wheeling. “But it’s better when you have a president coming you absolutely agree with, and who is keeping West Virginians working.”

Marshall County Republican Party Chairman Brian Long said he was impressed by Trump’s attention to West Virginia.

“It’s amazing he comes to this market,” Long said. “It’s not that I don’t expect it, but he goes to a lot of major places. He probably likes West Virginia — or at least likes Bob Murray because he raises money for him.”

Brooke County GOP Chairwoman Becky Deitch also praised Trump’s attention to West Virginia.

“I think it’s great he knows we exist because there have been a whole lot of presidents who just ignored us,” she said.

Deitch, though, would have liked to have seen someone else accompanying Trump.

“I like Shelley (Capito), but I really wish Melania would have come with him,” she said.


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