From: "Gillman, Todd"
Date: September 2, 2017 at 1:02:11 PM CDT
Subject: travel pool #5/NRG Center
The Trumps and their group spent almost 45 minutes at the NRG Center. There were many hugs and handshakes and many photos and selfies.
The first stop was the "kid zone," where kids, mostly young, were bouncing balls, playing board games, doing puzzles and making jewelry. One kid walked on plastic sand pails with rope, like short stilts.Some colored with crayons.
A woman shouted "Donald Trump!" as soon as he came into view. The press was in a pen, and dozens of amateur photographers joined us, trying to catch glimpses of the Trumps. They jostled for position with their cell phones. One shouted to no one in particular "It's Trump! There's Trump." Several Texas national guardsmen uniform were taking pictures, too, and they mostly shouted pro-Trump messages like "Thank you for coming Mr. President!" and "You rock!"
Trump began shaking hands and was quickly waylaid by a request for a selfie. Flotus, in an olive green "Texas" ballcap, worked the area separately for a while. She chatted with a young woman in a white T-shirt
Abbott had a very young girl on his lap.
Trump got into a scrum with three young boys, one with a plastic sword. One ran away, looking pleased but a bit shy, right after getting a hug from Trump, who had stooped down to give it. Trump briefly hoisted a little girl with tightly braided hair and gave her a quick embrace.
At one point FLOTUS knelt on the floor, books in hand, in a group of several children but didn't seem to read to them.
POTUS sat down at a round table piled high with Clue and Pictionary and other games. A young man was seated there, and three young girls. Abbott came over. HUD secretary Carson took the young man's phone and snapped some photos of him with the president.
Trump got up and spoke with Abbott and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and then shot two thumbs up, then one right thumb up, to the pool.
Some commentary in the press pen:
"This is the first time I ever been in this situation. Houston has been very organized," said Kevin Jason Hipolito, 37, an unemployed Houston resident whose first floor apartment near the Galleria was flooded. He was rescued from the roof of his Acura. He has been at the shelter for two days and is impatient for a housing voucher to go somewhere better. He shouted at Carson "Can you do something about that 72-hour rule?!" He was pleased that Trump showed up. "I'm a Democrat. It raises the morale. When he went to Corpus I was like man he just forgot about us. This shows a lot of support. It perks up morale."
Devon Harris, 37, a construction worker, was skeptical about the impact of a presidential visit. "Is he going to help? Can he help? I lost my home. My job is gone. My tools are gone. My car is gone. My life is gone. What is Trump going to do?"
On the far end of the NRG Center. a cavernous convention hall, the Trumps served lunch.
Robert Hendricks, 48, an electrical engineer standing on line, was dubious. "What's he going to do, use us as props to serve us lunch?" Still he said "it's good that he's showing his face."
Lunch is hot dogs, potato chips and Apple sauce.
Trump spoke briefly with the pool -- look for that material from co-pooler Phil Rucker -- and he and FLOTUS put on plastic serving gloves to hand out lunch. Mrs. Trump mainly joined the assembly line, putting the food in white styrofoam boxes marked American Red Cross. The president handed them out, but people seemed far more interested in shaking his hand or getting a photo than in the food and he indulged many with a pose and a smile from across the serving table.
Boxes of bananas were piled on a pallet behind the serving area.
Motorcade departed NRG Center at 12:45 pm CT heading for a church.
Todd J. Gillman
Washington Bureau Chief
The Dallas Morning News
529 14th Street NW, suite 930
Washington, DC 20045