Hundreds of people are gathering downtown for a rally with President Donald Trump later today — preparing for what would be his third appearance in Nashville since taking office 16 months ago.
The crowd — many clad in red "Make America Great" hats and patriotic shirts — lined up in two queues outside Municipal Auditorium. Vendors made their way up and down the lines selling more shirts and pins.
The crowd included Tobias Baker, a retired bricklayer. He drove two and a half hours with his family from Paducah, Ky., to attend the rally.
“I hope that we see some new faces in Washington in the near future. Some of our dinosaurs need to be turned out to pasture in both parties.”
Some also came to show their support for Republican candidates, especially Congressman Marsha Blackburn. One goal of the event is to build support for Blackburn's campaign for U.S. Senate, in which she's expected to face former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a popular and well-funded Democrat.
Trump is expected to touch down on an airstrip next to Nashville International Airport around 4:30 p.m. The rally is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The rally happened to coincide with a previously planned demonstration by the Poor People's Campaign, an organization that's been gathering for the past few weeks on nearby War Memorial Plaza to protest some of Trump's policies.
Just after 3 p.m., more than a dozen participants marched onto Charlotte Avenue and laid down in the middle of the street. After being warned by police that they'd be arrested unless they dispersed, officers took several into custody.
They were dwarfed, however, by the number of supporters of Trump. Tyler Blackman, a 19-year-old from Murfreesboro, says this was his second Trump rally in Nashville.
He learned from the previous one to arrive early. In March 2017, the line to get in snaked nearly a mile around the base of Nashville's Capitol Hill. Many couldn't get through security before the event started.
"I showed up to the last rally and almost didn’t get in," Blackman said. "Showed up (early this time), got our snacks at a gas station, walked down here about 2 miles, and are just sitting here waiting for the doors to open."
Trump also appeared in Nashville in January, delivering a speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
WPLN's Tony Gonzalez and Jay Shah contributed to this report.