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Trump Visits Reno, Calls for Unity Despite Protests

Paul Boger

President Donald Trump made quick work of his most recent trip to Reno, staying for only an hour and 23 minutes. But in that time, the president delivered a rather sedate message to veterans of the American Legion. 

In a speech that lasted less than a half hour, President Trump called Congress to take greater steps to improve services and support for veterans and their families. 

"Today, we are here to honor you for the sacrifices you have made to defend our nation and preserve our way of life," said Trump. "We are also here for another reason; we are here to hold you up as an example of strength, courage and resolve that our country will need to overcome the many challenges that we face."

The address stuck to the point and deviated little from his prepared remarks; however, the president did touch on other issues like fixing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, bolstering manufacturing jobs and being tough on crime. But most notably, in light of the recent protests and violence by white nationalists in Charlottesville, the president took a moment to call for unity.

"We are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck or the party of our politics, but by our shared humanity, by our citizenship in this magnificent nation and the love that fills our hearts.

Despite his calls for healing inside the convention center, outside, protesters voiced opposition to things like the president's actions in the aftermath of Charlottesville.

Credit Michelle Billman

Holding a sign that read 'Make Racists Afraid Again,' University of Nevada, Reno Student Andrina Sanchez said Trump's actions are emboldening fringe groups like the KKK and Nazis.

"Obviously, he hasn't said himself, 'I am a Nazi or I am a white supremacist,' but the things that he said... I probably would have a little bit more respect for him if he just went out and said, 'No, I don't believe in what my followers believe,' and he doesn't."

Drew List is the co-chair of the Northern Nevada Working Families Party, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

"Every time the president does something that is racist or xenophobic or filled with hate or just plain wrong, if we don't stand up to him, that becomes normal. We need to stand up to him or his behaviors become acceptable."

But back inside the convention center, the assembled legionnaires praised the president for his remarks at the convention. J.D. Bennet of Fresno said it’s refreshing to have a commander-in-chief so in-tune with the needs of veterans.

"We've got a president that's working for veterans, being truthful with our veterans and not candy-coating things," Bennet said. "Maybe that's a sore spot with some people, but from a veteran's standpoint, we love having someone representing us that is true to our cause."

To underscore that point, Trump used his visit with the American Legion to sign a bill that will speed up the process to appeal benefit claims for veterans, a measure spearheaded by Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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