As Democratic presidential hopefuls debated in Iowa Tuesday night, Republican incumbent Donald Trump held a big rally in Milwaukee.
About 13,000 supporters attended the event at the downtown UWM Panther Arena. Meanwhile, hundreds of Trump's critics gathered outside to protest the president and his policies.
Trump thanked the crowd for helping him get elected in 2016. He urged Wisconsinites to keep up the momentum this year, including by volunteering for his campaign. He says the state is benefiting from his policies, including a new trade deal:
"Tomorrow we'll also be signing our phase one trade deal with China, massively boosting exports. Products made and produced right here in the great state of Wisconsin," said Trump.
The president said his administration is responsible for a significant increase in earnings among the lowest-paid workers in the nation. He says their wages are rising faster than those in any other income bracket. And, he boasted about helping create 7 million jobs.
"As we begin the year, our economy is booming wages are rising, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, and America is the envy of the entire world," Trump says.
AP Fact Check refuted Trump's take on the economy, saying his job creation numbers are lower than those in Democratic President Obama's second term. Fact Check also says under Trump, the top 10% of earners have seen the biggest rise in earnings of all income brackets.
Trump also focused on international affairs, insisting that it was appropriate for the United States to order the attack that killed top Iranian military official Qassim Soleimani. Trump cited the reaction of former Nation Security Advisor Jim Jones:
"But even President Obama's own former national security advisor ... praised our action to take out Soleimani and said it was absolutely correct. And it was the absolute right thing to do, I'm sure," Trump says.
The Trump administration claims Soleimani posed an "imminent threat" to the U.S. Critics question the reason for the attack and worry about it escalating tension between the two countries.
The president received a warm reception from the crowd in Milwaukee. Lisa Ascherman was enthused about Trump's speech.
"Oh, it was fantastic. I drove in from Chicago just to see him. I have a son who is in the military and it's so fantastic to have a president who supports the military," says Ascherman.
Meanwhile, protesters assembled outside the arena before and during Trump's appearance. People representing a number of causes drove from other cities, including Chicago, to air their concerns.
Emma Pucker of Milwaukee had this message:
"This is a country that right now it feels like it's going backwards and we need to have allies for people of color, for people who don't have a voice. I wish I could do more," Pucker says.
Daniel Guiterrez participated in a rally for immigrant rights, telling Trump he'll be defeated in this fall's election.
"Trump, as a DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipient I tell you today: you will no longer be in office. Our mobilization of our community will show in 2020 and in November, you will see the strength this community has. The strength that hardworking immigrants have in this country," Guiterrez said.
Other groups released statements about Trump's visit.
Black Leaders Organizing for Communities took issue with a claim Trump made in his speech about African Americans joining the Republican Party. The statement said:
"BLOC talks to residents and voters every day and the greater majority of black residents in Milwaukee have no desire to see nor hear from Donald."
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