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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 29, 2018 1:36 pm

Congressman Banks has unexpected audience with President Trump

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Congressman Jim Banks, R-3rd, wasn't expecting an audience with President Donald Trump on Saturday.

But that's what he got.

Banks and fellow U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth greeted Trump at the airport in Indianapolis before a speech at the FFA convention.

But when Banks and Hollingsworth headed for a white van they were riding in during the motorcade, Trump unexpectedly said, "ride with me."

So Banks jumped into The Beast - the uber-fortified limo that ferries the president around to events - for an unexpected 25-minute ride.

Banks said the vehicle is smaller inside that you think, with four seats in addition to those up front for the driver and Secret Service agent. He sat across from Trump and Hollingsworth was beside him.

They talked of the morning shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 and Trump said he was feeling pressure to postpone his speech but Trump didn't want evil to win.

Banks told the president he supported his move for additional troops along the border to stop the caravan of immigrants, and Trump asked both men about their respective races for re-election.

"He talked a lot of about Indiana and how good Indiana was to him in the election," Banks said, noting the entire limo ride people were standing alongside the road with signs and flags and Trump would wave at them.

"He is very chatty," Banks said. "I tried to work in a few things."

At the end of the visit, Banks told Trump that he was elected to Congress and his brother was elected to county council on the same night as Trump was elected president.

Banks said his father "was so much more excited about you becoming President," to which Trump remarked that Banks' dad has good taste.

As if the ride wasn't surreal enough, Trump surprised Banks at the speech by calling him up on stage.

"Completely unscripted," Banks said. "I was very unprepared for the moment but it was great."