White Sulphur Springs Civic Center
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
2:24 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: That’s good music, isn’t it? (Laughter.) Well, thank you all for being here. And I don’t know if you know, but your state is doing very well. West Virginia — (applause) — Big Jim is doing a good job. Much better since he turned Republican, too. (Laughter and applause.) Nobody like him. I know him for a long time. He’s a friend of my boys, and he’s doing a great job as governor. So thank you very much, Jim. Appreciate it. And we’re on television nationwide talking about that, Jim. That’s pretty good. Huh?
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Just keep talking about me. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: And he’s definitely the biggest governor, too. Right? (Laughter.) And we’ll take that also. Thanks, Jim.
But it’s wonderful to be back in West Virginia. It was a very special place during the election for me. It was not even close. Was it? Huh? (Laughter and applause.) A lot of things have happened with your coal and a lot of other things that you’re doing in West Virginia. But they’ve all happened for the positive.
And actually, you’re one of the most successful, now — percentage-wise, you’re one of the most successful in the nation. And I could not say that during the election. Right? Before we got elected, it was not doing so well. And a lot of factors, but we got it going. And I’m very proud of it because you are very, very special people. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Thank you. Nice hat. Look at that beautiful hat.
I want to thank Jim and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Senator Shelley Moore Capito. (Applause.)
SENATOR CAPITO: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Shelley.
Congressman Jenkins, Alex Mooney, David McKinley for being here today. They’re all here. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
So now, once again, you see that America is open for business. The numbers are fantastic. The results are really incredible, what’s happening. We’re being talked about all over the world. One of the big things is our tax cuts. You know, they used to call it tax reform, and for 40 years they couldn’t pass anything and they didn’t know why. I said, “How’s it hard to pass tax cuts?” Turned out it was not that hard. It was not easy.
But we changed the name. I said, let’s — because being a person that’s only been doing this for two-and-a-half years, I said, “Don’t use the word ‘reform.’ Use the word ‘tax cut.'” Because when you talk about tax reform, that could mean your taxes are going up. And your taxes went down. They went down a lot.
And I always tell the Republican politicians, because the Democrats have a problem. I mean, if you look at your senator, he voted against — Joe — he voted against.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No, it was bad. I thought he would be helpful because he talks. Grabs me; I grab him. Says hello; I say hello. But he votes against everything. And he voted against our tax cuts. And that was bad. And he voted — he also voted against medical help and healthcare. And that’s bad, and we can’t have it. So, you know, it’s one of those things. And he does other things that I don’t like. I’ll be honest with you. (Laughter.) He does other things.
So, you know, you’re going to have a chance — (applause) — you’re going to have a chance to get a senator that’s going to vote our program, that’s going to help you in so many different ways. And you’re not getting that help right now.
I mean, we didn’t get one Democrat vote for tax cuts. And when you think about it, it was more than tax cuts — because we got rid of the individual mandate. When you get rid of the individual mandate — that was a disaster. That was the most unpopular aspect of Obamacare. This is where you have the privilege of paying a lot of money in order to not to have to pay for healthcare. Right? That’s not too good. And we got it out in our tax cut plan.
And we also got ANWR — energy. Big energy. We’re — I’m into the world of energy, as you know. And nobody does it better than you folks. So it’s very important to me.
But it’s really great to be here. We’re going to have a discussion on how to get the country moving even more so. You know, you probably saw that, for many years, no President wanted to go against China, economically. And we’re going to do it. We had a trade deficit of almost $500 billion last year with China. And I have great respect for the President of China, President Xi. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m a friend of his. And I like him a lot. But he’s representing China, and I’m representing the United States of America.
And it was time that we did something. We can’t continue to have — I spoke with Jim just coming in and — Jim is a great businessman — and he said, “You’re right.” Because we can’t continue to allow this to happen, where hundreds of billions of dollars is taken out of our country and our system; where if they make a car, they sell it here, it’s 2.5 percent tax. If we make a car and try and get it into China, number one, they won’t take it. But if they did, it’s 25 percent tax. So they pay 2.5; we pay 25. They don’t even want to take it. That doesn’t sound so good.
But it’s all like that. And we have our intellectual property, and a lot of people don’t understand what that means. And it doesn’t matter if you understand it or not. You understand the concept of being taken advantage of, and we can’t be taken advantage of any longer.
So we’re at a point where we had to do this. Our economy is strong. Our jobs are great. We’re going to come out with numbers on Friday that, hopefully, are going to be fantastic numbers. Companies are doing really well, and you have to go after the people that aren’t treating you right.
And in many respects, I think we’re going to have a fantastic relationship, long term, with China. But we have to get this straightened out. We have to have some balance. And that goes for other countries and it goes for other places.
If you look at the European Union, it’s very solidly against us in terms of trade. It’s very unfair. Look, a young girl shaking her head “yes.” You know about the European Union? (Laughter.) It’s like — it’s almost — we can’t even do business. They send their cars over here; they send everything over here. They don’t want to take our product. So we can’t let that happen. Do we agree with that? We can’t let that happen. (Applause.)
We’re working very hard on NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, and, you know, we’ll have something, I think, fairly soon. And I told my people — they’re like, “Oh, I want it before” — we’re making a trip next week to Peru, representing all of South America and different places.” And it will be very interesting. But they said, “Oh, let’s have NAFTA before.” I said, “Don’t rush it. Take it nice and easy. There’s no rush. We get it done right or we’ll terminate.” You know, if we don’t have it done right, we’re going to terminate.
When I was running, I said we’ll terminate NAFTA or we’ll renegotiate it. And Mexico has been pretty good. They were very good to us yesterday because, you know, they had the caravan of thousands of people coming up from Honduras. Thousands of people. And we have very weak laws because of the Democrats and Joe. I mean, Joe Manchin is just — (laughter) — he’s really not helped us on this stuff.
So we had very, very weak laws. We have the worst laws. You ever think catch-and-release, which we’re terminating very quickly. (Applause.) We’re doing it in pieces. No, it’s unbelievable. Think of this: So we have a country where if they step one foot — not two feet — if one foot hits our country, we have to take those people gently, register them, and then release them. Okay? We’re going to release them, essentially, in a short period of time. So we release them. And then they’re supposed to come for a court case. We hire more judges — we’re trying to hire thousands of judges. No other country in the world does it. We hire judges so that these people will come back.
Now, they’re on the land. We release them. They go someplace into our country. They’re supposed to come back within two or three years for a court case, but nobody ever comes back. (Laughter.) It’s bad enough to say, “Come back in three years.” But nobody comes back anyway. This is our country. If you have a baby on our land, congratulations, that baby is a United States citizen. We’re the only one.
Now, Mexico has very tough policies. They can do whatever they want, which is the way it should be, to be honest. You’re violating something very sacred. You’re violating a border.
Canada, very, very tough — very, very tough. And Canada is very merit-based. If you come into Canada, it’s got to be based on merit. With us, it’s a lottery system — pick them out — a lottery system. You can imagine what those countries put into the system. They’re not putting their good ones.
And remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower, when I opened. Everybody said, “Oh, he was so tough,” and I used the word “rape.” And yesterday, it came out where, this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that.
So we have to change our laws. And the Democrats, what they’re doing is just — it’s insanity. I don’t — nobody understands what’s going on.
So we have to have strong borders. We’re going to have the wall. We’ve already started building it. We have a billion-six. We’ve started building it and fixing miles and miles of wall that’s already up — and fence. And we’re going to have our wall. And we’re going to get it very strongly. The military is going to be building some of it. But we’re going to have very strong borders. And we have to change our laws, and we’re on working on doing that.
And believe it or not, if you look in California and you see what’s happening, it’s an incredible phenomenon, because sanctuary cities — it’s the worst; it’s basically a city to protect a lot of people that are bad people, really bad. You look at Kate Steinle, you look at so many other things that have happened in our country. And they’re protected.
How about the Mayor of Oakland, where she tells a thousand people to “get going; law enforcement is coming to get you.” And this was all planned. And many of them scattered, and it was pretty much a failure. I mean, to me that’s obstruction of justice, and something should happen there. And it hasn’t, and I don’t know why it hasn’t. But something should happen there.
So we’re toughening up at the border. We’ll be, I think, in great shape over the — I think over the next 12 months we’ll have a lot of things happening. But we cannot let people enter our country. We have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from. We have no idea what their records are. We don’t know if they’re murderers, if they’re killers, if they’re MS-13. We’re throwing them out by the hundreds.
You know, we’ve gone into towns in Long Island where we’ve taken MS-13 and we’ve actually liberated towns. This is our country, right? I grew up in Long Island, right short of Long Island. And these are great towns; I know every one of them. And they were taken over by thugs, by — you know, they talk about guns; they didn’t want to use guns. They use knives because it’s much more painful, where they cut people up, because a bullet is too quick. They want to inflict pain on students, on young women, young girls walking home. And their parents never see them again. They’re cut up.
And this is the kind of stuff — and crap — that we’re allowing in our country. And we can’t do it. We can’t do it anymore. (Applause.)
You have to see, there are some scenes of — the ICE people, they’re fantastic and they’re tough. And, by the way, that’s the only thing that these thugs understand. They don’t understand, “Oh, isn’t he an intelligent young man, isn’t he wonderful. He studied so hard in school.” They don’t — they only want tough. That’s all they understand.
And these ICE guys are so much tougher than them, and they’re grabbing them by the necks and throwing them into the paddy wagons. And the town — the people are clapping and screaming. Their town has been liberated. It’s like it’s a war. It’s like, literally, it’s a war, where your town or your city or your country has been liberated. They’re clapping, because even the law enforcement, some of it, has a hard time. But we have taken out — we’re moving hundreds and hundreds. You saw two days ago, we caught 101 of these MS-13 thugs. They’re the worst of — I mean, probably the worst of the group. But other gangs, too, come in — you just don’t know their names. But the MS-13 seems to be emblematic of evil, and we’re getting them out by the hundreds.
But they can come back in. They can come back in. It’s tougher, but they can come back in. So we’re working out systems now, and we called out the National Guard. And, you know, we’re doing a real job.
But I’ll tell you what: The laws of this country have to be strengthened and toughened up, because it is crazy. How about that? Catch — that means you catch them. Now you release them. That’s what it’s called — catch-and-release. Just think of that.
And chain migration — think of that. So you come in, and now you can bring your family, and then you can bring your mother and your father. You can bring your grandmother. You can bring your this; you can bring — we had somebody on the West Side Highway, which I know very well — in Manhattan — he ran over — I think he killed about eight people. And they never mention the 12 people that have been horribly injured. You know, these are not people that have been a little bit hurt. You know, they’ll lose legs and arms, and they’re destroyed for life. Nobody ever says that. You know, they don’t say, 12 people were absolutely destroyed. A man goes out to run because he wants to keep himself in shape, and he ends up going home with no leg, no arm. And all he wanted to do was run. It’s a beautiful place along the Hudson River.
And this guy comes out and he makes a right turn, right where everyone runs. He’s on the highway going 50, 60 miles an hour. He just goes, “Eh.” Then he killed eight people and injured many, many people. Still in the hospital, some of them. That was months ago. And came in through chain migration. Or he might have also come in through a lottery. But he brought a lot of people with him. They say 22 people. Twenty-two people.
So this guy, because he’s here, now can get the mother and the father and the grandmother and the cousins and the brothers and the sisters and the aunts and the uncles. This is what the Democrats are doing to you. And they like it because they think they’re going to vote Democrat. Okay? Believe me, they’re doing that for that reason. (Applause.)
They’re doing it for that reason and other reasons. And other reasons. And other reasons. But they are doing it for that reason, because they’re not going to be voting with us for the most part. A lot of them aren’t going to be voting. A lot of times it doesn’t matter, because in many places, like California, the same person votes many times. (Laughter.) You probably heard about that. They always like to say, “Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.” Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people. And it’s very hard because the state guards their records. They don’t want to see it.
So we have a lot of things going on, but a lot of things are being straightened out. And I just want to congratulate the state of West Virginia because I am so proud of you. You were with me from day one. From day one. I mean, it was — (applause) — no, you were with me from day one. There was never like, “Oh, gee, maybe it’s going to be close.” (Laughter.) And do you remember, at that beautiful arena — where’s the arena? Where was the arena, Shelley? At that beautiful — it probably held 7,000 people, and we had 20,000, 25,000 people that couldn’t get in.
SENATOR CAPITO: No, in Charleston. Charleston.
THE PRESIDENT: Wasn’t that incredible? And I went before the — I said, “Do you mind if I don’t come back? Because I want to focus on places where it’s going to be close, okay?” And everyone said, “Don’t worry about. Don’t come back.” Right?
SENATOR CAPITO: It’s getting remodeled. It’s getting bigger.
THE PRESIDENT: And we won — I think we won here by 42 points or something. Some incredible number. Forty-two points.
SENATOR CAPITO: It’s getting remodeled, so it will be bigger.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s getting remodeled. We’ll be back. (Applause.) All right?
But I remember I said that. Because I was seeing these polls and we were so far ahead. I said, “Do you think it would be okay if I went to Pennsylvania?” Which, by the way, we won. (Laughter and applause). And if I went to North Carolina, which by the way, we won — and Wisconsin and Michigan, where it was close. States that hadn’t been won by Republicans in many, many years. So I really appreciate West Virginia. And I’m very proud of you, and your numbers are incredible. And, you know, you’re among the — percentage-wise, you’re among the greatest gainers in this country, and I think it’s great and it just wasn’t that way.
But — a lot of reasons, but I’ll tell you what, you have done great. And we’re working on coal — clean coal. I always say “clean, beautiful coal.” And we’re working and the miners are happy. (Applause.) The miners are happy. And we’ll be looking at that 202. You know what a 202 is, right? We’ll be looking at that. We’re trying. But nine of your people just came up to me outside: “Could you talk about 202?” And we’ll be looking at that as soon as we get back.
And I think with that, I’ll start — you know, this was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes but — (laughter) — what the hell. (Laughter.) That would have been a little boring. Little boring. No, I’m reading off the first paragraph and I said, “This is boring. Come on.” (Laughter.) We have to say — tell it like it is. We have to get Republicans in office.
And I think with that, I’ll — maybe, Shelley, I’ll let you start off and you can — we can go around. And I’d like to have Jim say a few words.
SENATOR CAPITO: Yes. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll go around the horn. Thank you.
SENATOR CAPITO: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: And we’ll take some questions.
SENATOR CAPITO: Yes. And welcome back to West Virginia for the fourth time. You could probably drive the car in. (Applause.) Yes.
We really do have an incredible story to tell. And I’m going to go off script, because when people ask me, “What is something about President Trump that I don’t know that I might be interested to hear?” — and I always say that President Trump is an incredible listener. At any meeting I’ve ever been in with you, you’ve always listened to whoever is speaking and kind of take it in and then assimilate it, and then move forward in a policy sense. And I appreciate that. Because you are such a good listener, and you’re going to hear some good stories today.
I want to remind you, and everybody here — which I think they already know — I was one of your earliest and staunchest supporter for the tax cut bill. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s true. That’s true.
SENATOR CAPITO: So it’s also no secret, West Virginia, we’ve had some tough times. We really have. But we’re in a sense of renewal and great optimism because of the policies that you’ve brought forward and that Congress has been able to help you with.
I have a Share Your Stories initiative and I’m just going to briefly say two. And this is going to be brief. I asked people to share their stories about tax cuts and the influence that it’s had on you. And I was at a Holiday Inn Express and I learned that the desk clerk had just gotten her first paycheck from the tax — from the new schedule. And she got an extra $50 on her paycheck. And she came in the next morning and she told the manager, she had this bright smile on her face, she was so happy. And he goes, “Well, how come you’re in such a good mood today?” And she said, “With that $50, I was able to purchase high-speed Internet for my house so my daughter can do her homework.” So that is an impact on that person and her daughter. (Applause.)
The second instance is a gentleman from Huntington, as well, who also just got a thousand-dollar raise with his company. And he said, “It’s just amazing.” He’s been able to save some. He’s also — with energy costs going up and traveling now that it’s spring, he’s able to use that to enjoy more things with his family.
So he says thank you. I say thank you. And I look forward to hearing the stories today. And thank you, again, for coming.
THE PRESIDENT: I do too. Thank you very much. And, Shelley, this will be the last time — April — be the last time that you’re going to go that old-fashioned, big, lots of pages, complicated tax form. Because next April you’re going to, in many cases, one page, one card. It’s going to be very, very different. Very, very different. (Applause.)
So not only will you save a lot of money, because it’s a lot of money for a lot of people, but you’re also — and not to even mention the companies where they’re employing because now they have all this incentive. If you look, Apple is going to spend $350 billion building plants in our country instead of the different places they have them.
But you’ll have a nice, simple form next year. This will be the last year. So take pictures of it and enjoy it. (Laughter.) This is the last time you’ll have to file a very complex and big tax form. It will be much easier starting next April.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Well, Mr. President, let me just say just two or three things. First of all, this man is a friend of mine, and his family has been a friend for a long time. I can share with you just this — that what he’s done that has impacted our state thus far has changed our state in so many ways, it’s unbelievable.
I mean, you just think, I ran on “tired of being 50th.” And we’re finally first in all kinds of things. And all of us have a gratitude to pay to this man and his guts — his guts to stand up — like we and like a lot of West Virginians do, to change our country, and to do this when he surely to God didn’t have to do this. I mean, this man stepped forward for all of us.
Now, let me just say just this real quickly: The thing that I know about him that you may not is he really cares. He genuinely, in his heart, really cares about West Virginia, about you, and about this country.
And let me just end with just this, because this I love to tell you to death: The last time he was here, I was in the limo with him and I said, “Mr. President, the ladies down at Hardee’s this morning when I was going through — (laughter) — were out of their minds.” But then they said, “Can you please tell him we said hi and we love him and everything else.” And he looked at me and he said, “You like Hardee’s?” (Laughter.) He said, “I like McDonald’s.” And then I asked him if he could sign something and give to those ladies. And he looked all through the limo, and finally he pulled out his speech. And he said — he wrote: “Hardee’s gals, take care of Big Jim, a great guy and great friend. Donald J. Trump.”
Now, I’m telling you, that’s what kind of man we have in this office. And I love him with all my heart, and I’ll support him to the death. He’s a great man. Give him a giant round of applause. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Jim. That was very nice. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
That’s really nice, Jim. Thank you very much. My sons come up — you know, they go hunting with Jim. He’s a good hunter. And they go hunting. They love to hunt. So thank you very much for that. That’s really beautiful.
Maybe I could ask two very smart and very good representatives of you folks to say a few words. I’ll start with Evan, who — you’re going to be running, and you got a pretty close race going, I understand.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Welcome. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to know the outcome. When is the actual race?
PARTICIPANT: May 8th.
THE PRESIDENT: May?
THE PRESIDENT: May 8th. So go out and vote. Evan, go ahead. You’re up. Then Patrick.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Thank you, Mr. President. Welcome to the 3rd Congressional District.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Thank you. It’s an honor to have you. And as Shelley referenced, this is the fourth time in the 3rd Congressional District. So thank you — thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Terrific. You know, Shelley says people oftentimes ask her, “What’s something you don’t know about the President?” Let me suggest that something everybody in this room and every West Virginian knows, and that is, you’re a man keeping your promises. (Applause.)
I was a proud early supporter of your candidacy. Thank you. You made a promise to the people of West Virginia to end the war on coal, and you referenced the campaign — remember your opponent said she was going to put a lot of coal miners out of work.
THE PRESIDENT: Until she got here. (Laughter and applause.) That didn’t work. Right? She came here and tried to say no. Did I ever say that? That was not a good day — the roundtable. (Laughter.)
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: You made a promise to end the war on coal, and you’ve kept that promise. Thank you, on behalf of the great people of West Virginia.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Evan.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: You also said we’re going to cut taxes, and you did that. Shelley referenced, I think, some facts and figures. Let me give you an example.
Not a lot of people know it, but for the average West Virginian, two kids — it’s $1,966 more in their pocket because of your tax cuts, Mr. President. Thank you, on behalf of the people of West Virginia. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Evan. Thank you, Evan.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Now, here’s something just as powerful: The average mortgage in West Virginia is $600. You divide 600 into 1,900, and you find out that, thanks to President Trump, President Trump paid the mortgage payment for three months of the average West Virginian. You want to talk about making a difference in a family’s life, you’ve done that. You’ve kept your promise.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Evan.
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: And I’ve shared with the President here, a couple months ago — I said, “Mr. President, you know, in West Virginia, you have the highest approval rating of any state in the nation, because West Virginians understand your policies are working.” You ended the war on coal. You signed the legislation I had the honor of authoring that saved one-third of all the coal-mining jobs in America. And you did that in the Oval Office.
So on behalf of the people of West Virginia, thanks for keeping your promise. You’re welcome to come back any time. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. That’s beautiful. Thank you. And it’s my honor.
MR. MORRISEY: Well, Mr. President, welcome once again to “Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia. It’s my pleasure to be up with you at this roundtable today because your policies really have made an incredible difference in our state.
Now, to put this in perspective a little bit, for the previous four years, as the Attorney General of West Virginia, I probably had to file a lawsuit, it felt like, every day against the Obama administration. Thank goodness we now have an administration to work closely with who’s committed to regulatory reform, tax relief, and helping our state out. We had the bullseye on us until you got here. So thank you for that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Patrick.
MR. MORRISEY: Now, when the President comes to your state for the fourth time, you know that he cares. He has an incredible commitment to the people of West Virginia. The reason why I’m so excited about President Trump and his administration is because on the key issues that matter to our state, your policies are dead-on correct.
Regulatory reform — this is where you’ve made an incredible amount of progress. That Clean Power Plan, I sued Obama, took him all the way up to the Supreme Court, and I won. But you know what? It still was pending in the courts. You came in, and, boy, we walked into the White House and it was much easier dealing with the Trump administration than it ever was under Barack Obama. That’s an awesome thing for West Virginia. (Applause.)
You know what? On issue after issue, you have a regulation, an executive order you put out — the one in, two out. Well, I defended your administration. We actually knocked it out of the D.C. court. Because President Trump understands we have to dramatically reduce the size and scope of the administrative state. And so he’s committed to doing that, with his appointments to the Cabinet, with his judicial picks. And that’s what gets me so excited about it.
Now, he also is focusing on the opiate epidemic with a laser beam. I have to tell you, sir, that is our number-one challenge here in West Virginia.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, it is.
MR. MORRISEY: We have incredible amounts of senseless death here in our state. But over the last six months, we’ve been working with your DEA and others because we’re changing the completely failed drug quota system that spit millions and millions of pills into our state. Finally, after years of me being stonewalled by Obama, the Trump administration is delivering. That is a great thing for the citizens of our state, and I want to thank you for that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you, Patrick. And, you know, speaking of opioid — because you do; you’re one of the top states, unfortunately, in the nation in terms of the opioid problem — but we just had $6 billion approved to fight opioid, to take care of people, to wean them off the problem once it begins. (Applause.) And that came with the tax cut bill also. And very important, $6 billion, that came just with the recent bill, the omni. And we got $6 billion approved toward the opioid crisis. It’s a tremendous crisis. And something that I’m very happy that we’re able to at least have the funding.
Now we have to start the work. It is not an easy situation. This, whatever you call it, it starts and you get hooked so fast. You know, I have friend, he goes to the hospital, he had a bad arm. He comes out and he’s like a drug addict. You get hooked, and you get hooked fast.
And we’re spending a lot of money on research so that it’s not so addictive — painkillers that aren’t so addictive. These are painkillers where you go into a hospital, you come out, you’re a drug addict. And then we have the more normalized drug problem, and a lot of that comes through the southern border. And that’s one of the other reasons we’re being very strong with the National Guard and with the wall. (Applause.) And we’re going to get it stopped. We’re going to get it stopped.
We don’t need — it’s not even — we don’t — it’s not like we have a choice. We have to get it stopped and we will.
Let’s go down toward the end, and you could talk a little bit and tell us about what’s going on. Go ahead.
MR. HODGE: All right. Hey, good morning, Mr. —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. HODGE: — or good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Tony Hodge. I’m a rural mail carrier here in West Virginia. I have my wife Jessica with me, and my two sons — Hayden, he’s 10 and Lenin is 7. They’re waving at you right now. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Beautiful. Great. Great looking.
MR. HODGE: We are here to thank you for signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Because of this act, my family has been able to save, this year, $2,417.
I want to tell you two quick ways of how we’ve used it. My wife and I, we’ve talked, we have a modest kitchen at home. We wanted to update the countertops. We’ve wanted to do this for a while. Last fall, we were talking about it. I said, “Well, let’s wait and see what happens with the tax plan.” I knew you wanted to have it passed by the end of the year. I said, “Let’s see what happens.”
The tax plan went through, the new year came around, the economy is rolling. We felt, because of the tax plan, confident as consumers, and we said, you know what, now is the time. We’re going to take what we have a little bit extra of, we’re going to go out, we’re going to update our home. That’s one way.
The other way is — you just spoke about the opioid epidemic. The part of West Virginia I’m from — Hurricane, it’s over near Charleston and Huntington — one of the most effective ways that we deal with the opioid epidemic is through our faith-based initiatives. And because I’m getting a little bit of extra money in my paycheck, and my wife as well, we are able to give a little bit more to our churches, to ministries. And we use these ministries to fight this epidemic going on. Ministering people — to people; we’re seeing them set free.
And when they’re set free and released from the bondage of their addiction, they are becoming productive members of society. They’re getting jobs. They’re restoring their families. They’re finding self-worth and dignity through gainful employment because of the work that our charitable organizations are doing. And we’re able to give into that.
So those are two ways that it’s directly affected my family. If, Jessica, my wife, would like to say something.
MRS. HODGE: I just want to say thank you. I said I wasn’t going to cry. (Laughter.) Gosh. I just want to say thank you to you for the tax cuts. This is a big deal for our family. I think half of this audience is our family. (Laughter.) We really support you. And this is a big deal. These tax cuts are a big deal.
Thank you for listening to us. Thank you for fighting for us. Thank you for caring enough to allow us the opportunity to come here and tell you “thank you” to your face. My boys — my little 10-year-old wants to be President one day. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Oh. It will happen. That’s fantastic. That’s a beautiful family.
MRS. HODGE: And I just thank you for the opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. So beautiful. Thank you very much. Great family. Thank you. Take good care of them, okay, boys? Take good care of them. (Applause.) Thank you.
MR. BONNELL: Mr. President, first, thank you for the invitation. I really appreciate it. I think it’s an honor to meet you, and I’m happy and very proud to participate in this event.
My name is Nathaniel Bonnell and I am the President of Citizens Bank of West Virginia. I’m from Elkins. That’s where Citizens is headquartered. We’re a small community bank. We have five branches within the state and we’ve operated out of Elkins for 94 years. So we have a long history in the state.
Our staff is the heart and soul of what makes Citizens successful as a small community bank in a small town in West Virginia. And because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we were able to give every one of our 66 employees an additional $1,000 over and above their normal annual raises. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Great.
MR. BONNELL: That $1,000 bonus — we talked to several of the staff members and they’ve told us several stories. And I’ve brought with me a staff member today that I’ll let speak with you in just a moment.
But in addition to the bonuses, Citizens operates in rural Appalachia, and we know all too well that, oftentimes, small organizations, like us, help support local communities and charities. Citizens Bank, with the savings from the tax plan — or the tax reform — we have committed to increasing our philanthropy and we’ve made a couple of significant contributions, for our size, to the local nonprofit hospital, as well as the local liberal arts college in our town, as well as some other small things.
But I think that the tax plan has given Citizens the opportunity not only to invest more money in our folks, who obviously deserve more, but also invest in our local communities and the nonprofits that serve those areas.
So I brought with me today Anita Jones. She is with us and she is one of the recipients of the $1,000 bonus. And I’d like to let you — let her tell a little bit about her story.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. Thank you.
MS. JONES: Mr. President, I’m very honored to be here and to finally meet you. My name is Anita Rubianto Jones. I am from Elkins and I work at Citizens Bank of West Virginia as a mortgage loan processor. I am originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. I got married in 2006 and I moved to West Virginia in 2007. And in 2013, I became a proud U.S. citizen. (Applause.)
This country has given me a lot of opportunities to know myself, to be well, to done well in so many things I do. I live in beautiful West Virginia. I left my family back home, but I gained more in here. I found them in my workplace, I found them in college, and I found them in my communities.
I went to Davis and Elkins College in 2009. And in 2010, I had my internship at the bank. And 2010 I started working myself up to the position that I am today. And this year, this last 2018, I had a wonderful surprise from the bank. (Laughter.) We all do. We have $1,000 bonus each. For me, it is such a blessing because I’m going to use that money to add the trip for me to go home — my home country — to visit my parents and my dad that has not been well. And I have not been home since 2009.
THE PRESIDENT: Wow.
MS. JONES: Yeah. And I’m going to bring my son, Daniel, to go home with me because he forgot everything about where he came from. It is very important for him to do so.
So, I am thankful for the opportunity you gave me. And again, I’m very honored.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s so nice. (Applause.) Thank you. And have a good trip. I know Indonesia very well. Great people and great — you have some great representatives that I’ve gotten to know very well in Indonesia. So have a good trip. That’s really nice.
And, you know, your bank, maybe from the standpoint of lending — we’ve done something very important; we made it a lot easier for you to lend now to great people that a short period of time ago you were not able to lend because of rules, regulations, and you were lending to people that you didn’t even want to lend. And the people that you wanted to, it was all messed up with the rules, regulations, and everything else. And I’m sure you find a big difference.
But also, we’re working on Dodd-Frank right now so that especially the smaller institutions can, like — from areas like right here, where you have some incredible people that want to borrow money, they could never borrow money to start a business or anything else. As you know, you were able to do that. The lending difference, you see a big difference right now. And the lending climate and the level of anger at banks was just enormous. It was horrible what was going on. And there’s a tremendous difference right now. You see that as a banker?
MR. BONNELL: Significant difference. And community banking is significantly different than, I’ll say, Wall Street banking.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. Absolutely.
MR. BONNELL: And tailoring regulation to community banks is really important to small towns like Elkins and small towns in West Virginia. So —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s made a big difference. That’s great. And we’re doing a step further, and it should be done fairly quickly. We’re actually — you won’t believe this — we’re actually getting bipartisan support. Does anybody believe that? (Laughter.) Maybe Joe won’t, but most people would. (Laughter and applause). So thank you. Thank you. That’s a great story. Beautiful.
MR. FARRELL: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Welcome back to West Virginia. We’re glad you’re here. My name is Sean Farrell. I’m the principal engineer at Service Pump and Supply in Huntington, West Virginia. We primarily serve the coal industry, developing solutions for their water issues.
This is my wife, Michelle.
MRS. FARRELL: Hello, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Hi.
MRS. FARRELL: I would like to introduce with you today that we have our two children, Carly, Collin, here with us today. (Applause.) Both of our children attend St. Joseph Catholic School, which is a private school in our hometown of Huntington.
MR. FARRELL: Sir, last month, we opened for the first time a 529 account. Previously, these accounts could only be used to spend on college education. With the changes to the tax law, we can now spend it with St. Joe, for our kids’ K-12 education.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
MR. FARRELL: It’s a great benefit to us. We know a lot of families that are taking advantage of it as well. So we appreciate that change to the tax law that allows us to save and invest in those accounts and spend it on their K-12 education at St. Jo.
Additionally, Service Pump, where I work, everybody in the company received a raise as a direct result of the tax plan. And we made sure that everyone there knew that the reason that the reason they got raises was because of the new tax laws. So we really appreciate that.
On a side note, we had an impromptu spring break trip to Washington, D.C. the last three days. Purdue and Marshall both were out of the basketball tournament, so — (laughter) — my plans opened up.
So we took our two kids to Washington, D.C. and explored all the things that there is to do there. Our son was disappointed we couldn’t walk up to the front door of the White House and ask for you. (Laughter.)
But we appreciate that you’re here. We thank you for all that you’ve done for West Virginia and the fact that you’re here and that my little guy gets a chance to say hello.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s really nice. Thank you. Hello. (Applause.)
MR. DOTSON: Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Terry Dotson. I’m the Chairman and CEO of a company called Worldwide Equipment. We have 48 rooftops in six states. Our company is 50 years old. And partly because of your administration, we were able to bring every employee that had been with us over 50 years, and celebrate 400 rooms we rented from Jim down at the Greenbrier last May. (Laughter.)
We’ve suffered through the — we employ about 225 people in West Virginia and have six rooftops here. We currently have about a $6 million payroll, yearly, in the state of West Virginia.
Our employees this past — because of the tax cut and your administration, and the changes that you’ve made in the energy business, we were able to give every employee a $300 bonus. We’ve been able to give more rapid raises. We’ve broken ground on two new facilities in another state. Yesterday, we just announced the acquisition of another location that we employ people.
You know, this country moves on trucks. Eighty-four percent of all freight in this country moves solely on a truck. And with the technology we have today, the air going out of a truck is cleaner than the air coming into it. And I can tell you how good the total country is in business today — that’s changed since you’ve been in office — is virtually the trucking industry is sold out for this entire year’s build. And they’re scheduling now for the first quarter.
You’ve made a huge difference. Your tax cuts have made a difference. And I can tell you our people know that your tax cuts have made a difference. I can tell you that it’s not crumbs to them when they can pay their car payments and invest in their children’s future. It’s extremely important that the money stays and turns over in the communities. You’re a businessman and you know that.
And I thank you very much for the things that you’ve done, for the things that you’ve made possible by you being in office. And I just pray to God that you stay focused and get it done as it needs to be. Because you’ve done a great job, and you’re (inaudible). (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s very nice. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. DOTSON: I’d like to introduce our HR person for another statement.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Go ahead. Thank you.
PARTICIPANT: Hello, Mr. President. I just want to say that, because of your tax cuts, our employees were able to enjoy bonuses this year. Most of our businesses are located throughout the coalfields. And you guys were talking about the war on coal. I, firsthand, know — not only as an HR director and as a business person, but I’m married to a very proud coal miner. So, personally, I know what that wage on war — on coal really did to our areas.
Our employees, I’m proud to say, that throughout the previous administration’s war on coal, that Worldwide Equipment didn’t — we held the line. We had zero layoffs throughout that entire time. And to me, that only reinforced to our employees how dedicated we were to them.
When we were able to give the bonuses, we had employees who — they came at a time where people were looking to travel. They wanted to go be with their families. It was over the Christmas holiday when we actually gave the bonuses. We had employees who may not otherwise have been able to travel to see family who lived in other states. We had an employee who actually wrote a thank-you letter to Mr. Dotson. He actually used that money to go spend time with his father who was dying during that time. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have had the means to have done that.
We had employees who spent the bonuses on things such as car seats, things that many of us don’t even think that maybe — you know, where’s that extra money going to come from? And we were able to actually give them a little bit of cushion.
And I’m proud to say that, under your administration, Mr. President, and the administration, the hardworking people of our company feel like they’ve been able to take a deep breath and maybe relax a little bit and enjoy some of the extras that we’re able to provide because of you and your administration.
I just want to say thank you, on behalf of Worldwide Equipment and all of our employees. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. That’s so nice. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
And, you know, you talk about the trucking industry. It’s true, they’re doing very well, and they’re building a lot of trucks. And we want those trucks, for the most part, to be built right here in the United States. Right? Right here in the U.S. (Applause.) And a lot of them are.
Thank you. That’s great. It’s a great story.
MR. LILLY: President Trump, I want to thank you for just this opportunity to address you. I want to thank God for this opportunity as well. I’m not a political person by any means. I mean, I really don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. I’m a simple man. I’m a father, I’m a worker, I’m a husband, and that’s what I focus on.
You know, my daughter, Hailey (ph), is in the audience. We have two young sons, Jordan and Jason, that — (applause) — we have two young sons, Jordan and Jason, that wasn’t able to come today. And, you know, I work for them.
We’re Christians. We serve at our church, Daniels Bible Church. Our pastor is with us today in the audience. And I know he’s a big supporter. And you know —
THE PRESIDENT: Which one is he? Where is your pastor?
MR. LILLY: Carl Dingus. He’s up there waving.
MRS. LILLY: There he is. All the way up there. (Applause.)
MR. LILLY: But, you know, I work for Leslie Equipment. We’re a John Deere dealership, and last week you was at a Cat training facility. They might be our competition. But you was — (laughter) — talking, just speaking a lot about infrastructure and how you’re going to rebuild the American infrastructure. And, you know, that’s a blessing to hear for our company.
You know, my job as a parts manager is to make sure that our dealership has the parts in stock to keep the machine that’s going to take care of that infrastructure running. So, you know, just in job security, that’s good to know.
You know, we also — you know, coalfields are big around our area. It’s good to see that coming back. It’s also — we, me and my wife, we’re members of — steering committee members for the Friends of Coal Auto Fair, which is a large car show in the area. It benefits a lot of local charities, the biggest one being Hospice of Southern West Virginia. And it’s just great to be able to see you supporting the industries that really supports those charities and that event.
The bigger reason we’re here is our family was blessed a lot by the tax cuts. I’m going to introduce my wife now, Elizabeth. She can tell you exactly how that’s been a blessing to our family.
MRS. LILLY: Hi, my name is Elizabeth. Thank you for being here. Thank you for letting us be here. We really appreciate it.
Our family is averaging savings, now, right over $3,500. So, it’s amazing. And Hailey — we actually — she’s joined the archery team for her school, and we get to travel with her now and watch her shoot archery all over the state of West Virginia, which is awesome.
And also, my health — we have some issues with my health, and we have to travel about three hours one way to the hospital that I have to go to. And instead of driving down and back, now we can stay overnight instead of making the trip in one day. So that’s amazing.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MRS. LILLY: It’s really, really helped us out.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you. That’s beautiful. Thank you. (Applause.) And you’re doing well, right?
MRS. LILLY: I have surgery again in June, but I’m okay.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re going to be well.
MRS. LILLY: Yeah, I’m good.
THE PRESIDENT: No doubt. That’s great. Thank you very much.
MR. LILLY: Thanks.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s really beautiful. Thank you.
MR. HITCHCOCK: President Trump, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to speak with you today. And I want to thank you also, again, for coming back to West Virginia. I know it means a great deal to all of our citizens that you’re here. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
MR. HITCHCOCK: I’m Hugh Hitchcock. I’m President and CEO of Davis Trust Company. We’re a $145 million community asset — community bank in Elkins, West Virginia, about 110 miles north of White Sulphur Springs. We’ve been in business for over 117 years. We have 45 full-time employees. We’re members of the Community Bankers of West Virginia, which is a state affiliate to the ICBA.
Last year, about this time, some of our members got the opportunity to visit with you in the Rose Garden and we presented you with one of our red hats, which obviously is a play off your red hat, made famous during the campaign with Make America Great Again. (Applause.)
Now, obviously, our red hat is not as famous as yours. But our slogan, “Make Community Banks Great Again,” certainly goes hand-in-hand — (laughter) — with what you are working to accomplish in America, Mr. President. Thank you.
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, signed by you into law right before Christmas, is a prime example of what you’re doing to provide the tools to help business turn things around in our country. And you are turning things around.
On the business side, by reducing the corporate tax rate from 34 to 21 percent right out of the gate, it helps make us more competitive, it improves our bottom line, which in turn enables us to invest more into our community — more lending, more small business lending, more consumer lending, and also invest more in the community.
Like Nathaniel mentioned, we’re also located in Elkins, West Virginia. We’re a large supporter of our community and we’re able to do more. The local college, the local United Way — they look to the community banks. They look to Davis Trust Company. And because of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, we’re able to do more.
And in this case, our board also, with the benefits that we’re seeing, we were able to give an across-the-board 3 percent pay increase coupled with a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. And I can assure everyone listening: This was much more than just crumbs. It makes a tremendous difference. (Applause.)
And, Mr. President, I urge you to stay the course. Stay the course. It’s not easy And what you have done for our country — you, again, are helping to turn things around in a big way.
And now, to give you an idea of what the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act means to one of our employees, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you one of our recently promoted Assistant Head Teller, Ann Macomber, to explain just what the benefit of the base-pay increase means to her.
Thank you for being here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. HITCHCOCK: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank very much. (Applause.)
MS. MACOMBER: I am so fortunate to work for a company willing to share their savings from the tax plan with their employees. The employees of Davis Trust Company did not just receive a one-time-only bonus, but an increase to our wages. This means more money in our paychecks now and also in the future.
I am already using my extra money to spoil my grandsons just a little bit more. (Laughter.) I have two grandsons; Ethan is nine, and Silas will be seven tomorrow. Silas wanted a guitar for his birthday, and grandma came through and he is getting a guitar for his birthday tomorrow. (Applause.)
His brother, Ethan, plays the banjo, but has decided now he wants to play the violin. So I imagine that I will be buying a violin in the very near future. (Laughter.)
I appreciate the opportunity to express my gratitude to both my employer, Davis Trust Company, and also to you, Mr. President. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you very much. And also, I think you were probably in the White House, and I saw a whole group of people. It was over the regulation. They were being regulated right out of business and we took care of that. And we did it in a very nasty fashion. You would have been very proud of us. (Laughter.) We had a man that was a disaster. He really — he was inflicting pain, wasn’t he?
MR. HITCHCOCK: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: It was crazy.
MR. HITCHCOCK: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: These are great people. There was, you know, 100-year-old institutions that were not going to make it. And we took care of that situation very rapidly. It was a terrible thing that was happening to a lot of great institutions, smaller institutions. And now they’re thriving, I would say, right?
MR. HITCHCOCK: Yes. Things are — have definitely turned around.
THE PRESIDENT: Little difference. That’s good. Thank you very much Hugh. I’m glad to see you in happier times. You were not so happy when I saw you.
MR. HITCHCOCK: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yep.
MR. HITCHCOCK: Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So that pretty much wraps it up. We’re very proud of the tax cut. It’s — a lot of people are being helped so much, and so many things in there that we don’t even talk about, when you’re talking about tooling and trucking and all of the elements of investment that you have to make and now you have one-year expensing. Who would have believed you would have had that? Nobody ever thought that was going to be possible to get where you can write off your expenses in one year what you — it was simply one-year expensing. I think it’s going to be the greatest benefit in the whole bill. I actually think that perhaps could have the biggest benefit in the bill.
Tremendous amounts of money is coming, and basically billions and billions of dollars is being brought from offshore where big companies, small companies, they had money trapped outside of our country; they couldn’t get it in. And I think it’s going to end up being $4 trillion will come back in. Already, Apple said they’re bringing back about $220 billion and others are bringing back billions and billions of dollars, and it’s coming back at a faster rate than we ever thought possible.
So it’s been — it’s really been tremendous. So I just can say, on behalf of myself and Republicans and the Trump administration, and all of the people that work so hard, it’s been an honor. It’s had a huge impact on our country. And wait until you see the numbers. The numbers are starting to get released of companies and, frankly, families and their spending and their spending habits, and they’re able to go out and buy things. And hopefully we’re going to start making more things in the United States.
And that will be great when you see elements of your life that were very important and they were made in different countries. I think we’re going to start making things here again, and that’s very important. When we renegotiate a lot of these deals, we’re taking a lot of the incentive away to go elsewhere.
We want our people to make products that they’re buying and we want to be proud of it again. You know, we used to have an expression, “Made in the USA.” And we don’t hear that too much anymore, but we’re starting to hear it a lot. We have factories moving from Mexico. And again, we’re negotiating a deal with Mexico, NAFTA, and I hope it works out. But it was a horrible deal for our country. It was incompetently drawn. It was a shame that it ever happened. It emptied out millions of jobs. Thousands of factories and plants. They left. And a lot of them are moving back. Chrysler just announced they’re moving back into Michigan and many other car companies are expanding and building brand-new plants. That hasn’t happened for many years — for decades.
So it’s my honor. We’re enjoying it. We’re fighting it. We got a lot of people out there that I don’t think are very good people, but that’s okay. We have some people that are great people. We have some people that really, they love this country more than anything and they see now it’s on the right track. And it’s going to get better and better. And you’ll see a lot of changes and a lot of very positive changes.
But it’s been great hearing your stories. Your stories have been fantastic. And, Jim, I want to thank you. And, Shelley, I want to thank you. And, Patrick and Evan, good luck. I don’t know, you two — (laughter) — you two. Good luck.
MR. MORRISEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s going to be a — should we do a little test? (Laughter.)
REPRESENTATIVE JENKINS: Yes. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Who’s voting for Patrick?
THE PRESIDENT: Who’s voting for Evan?
MR. MORRISEY: This is his Congressional district.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. Yes, it’s your district. Okay. (Laughter.)
MR. MORRISEY: We’re statewide.
THE PRESIDENT: But it was fairly close. (Laughter.) It was fairly close, right?
Hey, thanks everybody. We love you all. We’ll be back. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
3:27 P.M. EDT