WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — President Donald Trump was greeted with cheers upon landing at Greenbrier Valley Airport on Thursday, as well as applause from attendees of his tax policy roundtable at the White Sulphur Springs Civic Center.

But Trump’s motorcade had to pass a small group of protesters en route to the event, which included signs against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that went into law in December.

Trump, lawmakers and business leaders spoke about how tax cuts have helped West Virginia, though the president took time to jab Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, decry the country’s immigration policies and hold an impromptu audience poll over who would vote for U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins or state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the Republican Senate primary.

Around 50 people watched as Trump stepped off of Air Force One, with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Gov. Jim Justice welcoming the president upon his arrival.

Along West Main Street in downtown White Sulphur Springs, around 25 people greeted the president with signs saying the changes in the tax law are designed to benefit corporations and wealthy Americans and leave middle-class Americans paying more in taxes in the long term; the changes to the individual tax rate will expire at the conclusion of 2025.

“I’m old enough to have remembered the trickle-down economy of the tax cuts during (the) Reagan (administration), and I remember the devastating effects it had on the economy,” Edith McKinley, of Lewisburg, said. “When I hear people present this as if it is something brand new, as if we didn’t already know where this is going, I’m just incredulous.”

Kellen Leef, member of the Greater Greenbrier Indivisible and Women’s March and Maxwellton resident, helped organize Thursday’s protest, which she said was done on short notice after learning of Trump’s arrival Monday evening.

“Giving tax breaks to large corporations in order for them to trickle down to people doesn’t work for small business,” she said.

Leef, who owns a local catering company, said corporations having to pay less in taxes does not help small businesses or their employees.

“There are people here who need to make a choice between buying their kids supplies for school or paying their power bill, so they don’t have money to spend eating out,” she said.

As Trump’s motorcade was leaving, the protesting group chanted, “Lock him up,” referencing the chants used by Trump supporters against 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

On the opposite side of West Main Street, a small group of Trump supporters showed their approval for the president’s agenda with signs featuring supportive messages such as “I love Donald Trump.”

“I think this president here has done as much or more for the middle-class people than anybody since Ronald Reagan,” said Ed Hanna, who came with his grandchildren to watch the presidential motorcade.

Lisa Saunders, of White Sulphur Springs, said passage of the tax law would be a significant accomplishment for any president in their first year.

“There’s just so many people that’s in his way, I think that’s the trouble,” she said. “You can only do so much. He’s got a lot on his plate.”

According to Morning Consult data released Wednesday, Trump has a 61 percent approval rating in West Virginia.

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