President Donald Trump speaks at Flavor 1st Growers and Packers in Mills River on Monday. Trump delivered remarks on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program after touring the Flavor First facility. Jacob Biba / Carolina Public Press

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MILLS RIVER — The scaled-back Republican National Convention began Monday night in Charlotte, but President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump made a side visit to Western North Carolina on Monday afternoon.

Western North Carolina is one of the most fiercely Republican regions of an otherwise purple state that voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, but for Republicans Mitt Romney and Donald Trump during the next two cycles. Current national polls are divided on the way North Carolina is likely to go this year, but most agree that the state, the ninth-largest in the nation, if one of the most competitive battlegrounds.

For Trump to win in North Carolina this year, he’ll need a strong showing from his loyal base of supporters in the mountains. His new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, represented the staunchly conservative region for nearly a decade before stepping down last year to take the White House post.

Trump appeared alongside the Republican nominee to take Meadows seat, Madison Cawthorn, at an event in the region on Monday.

However, court-ordered redistricting has made Meadows’ old 11th District less reliably Republican than it once was, including all of the one major area of Democratic voters, the city of Asheville, in the district. Democrats are running Moe Davis, a former judge and military prosecutor from Shelby, in the hopes of flipping this congressional seat.

Ironically, Trump landed at Asheville’s airport Monday on the way to an event in heavily Republican Henderson County in the small town of Mills River, less than a mile from the airport.

National polls may show Trump to be unpopular across the country, but his fan base in Henderson County remains supportive, with coverage from WLOS showing large crowds lining Boylston Highway in Mills River for hours ahead of the presidential motorcade.

Trump spoke in the afternoon at Flavor 1st Growers and Packers, a Mills River organization that distributes Farmers to Families Food Boxes in Henderson County through a partnership with the faith-based organization Baptists on Mission.

The operation in Mills River is a beneficiary of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, Farmers to Families, which buys surplus food from farmers and provides it to needy families.

After addressing an invitation-only crowd and members of the press in front of a large sign saying “Baptists on Mission” at the Growers and Packers plant, Trump returned to the airport and continued to appearances in the South Carolina Upstate.

A couple take a selfie as President Donald Trump speaks at Flavor 1st Growers and Packers in Mills River on Monday. Jacob Biba / Carolina Public Press

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This release, story or event was developed through multiple sources and/or is from the staff of Carolina Public Press.

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  1. Not all of us were unmasked trump fans, showing either how ignorant of this virus they were or how much they just didn’t give a damn about either susceptible family members or each other. I would like to think that it was those bused in by several Young Transportation buses that made such fools of themselves over this destructive human in such a position of power. I would like to think too that my native North Carolinians were staying as far away from this man as possible; that they had long ago seen him for the rabble-rousing carpetbagger he truly is and always has been and that the more rabid of the crowd had come here over the years from other states; imports who never learned the Western North Carolina belief in, ‘Live and let live’. More’s the pity if that wasn’t the case. I’d hate to think our mountain values have been as corrupted as the man in the big, black, limo.