Several thousand people made it inside Municipal Auditorium Wednesday night to hear President Donald Trump deliver a defiant speech. He thumped a federal judge's ruling on immigration, sparked jeers at former opponent Hillary Clinton and pledged to put a stop to Obamacare.
Trump took the stage only hours after a Hawaiian judge put a freeze on a second executive order banning travel from six, Muslim-majority nations. The president said he'll fight the decision and fired back on his Democratic opponent from November.
"The law and the constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she. Fortunately, it will not be Hillary," he said.
The crowd responded by chanting "lock her up." They also cheered for the president as he argued in favor of replacing the Affordable Care Act in stages, touted the nation's job growth and laid out the steps he's made toward building a wall along the Mexican border.
Despite all of that, the rally comes at a time when polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of his presidency. But the strong turnout and enthusiastic reception show he has plenty of support in Tennessee.
Though there were empty seats inside Municipal Auditorium when Trump took the mic, it wasn't for lack of people wanting to get in. Crowds were still waiting outside even as the speech ended.
At the height, in mid-afternoon, the line snaked through downtown Nashville for more than a mile. It took Sonya Holt and her family 20 minutes to walk to the end of it.
But for them, that was nothing compared to the drive.
"We've been on the road since 5 o'clock this morning," she said. They live in Elizabethton, Tenn., right next to Johnson City — 300 miles from Nashville.
"We have been so excited about this, to support him and let him know that there are a lot of people who love him and are grateful and thank god every day that he got elected."
Holt was in good company. The line ahead of her was filled with ardent Trump supporters, many decked out in bright red hats or shirts. There were even some "Make America Great Again" scarves, appropriate for the chilly weather.
But one woman, wearing sparkly red, white and blue, confessed she was not a fan. "There are a lot of us in line too, kind of incognito," said Trisha Farmer of Mount Juliet.
Farmer said she was part of a protest planned for inside the auditorium. During the president's speech, she said, someone would give a cue, and they would all stand up and walk out.
At least, that was the plan. But three hours later, the time Trump was expected to start, Farmer was still a quarter mile away from the front of the line and decided to leave.
Many Trump fans, however, tried to stick it out. Ysobel Lindsey, who drove in from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., near the Alabama border, said she was having a good time waiting in line — and she caught a glimpse of Trump's motorcade.
"If I don't go in," she said, "at least I'm happy to see that."