WILMINGTON – More than 5,000 people turned out to hear Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump speak at a rally on UNC-Wilmington’s campus. That turnout was evident as the lines snaked around the buildings and parking lot area of Trask Coliseum on Tuesday morning in the hours before Trump took the stage.
Many supporters carried Trump signs and were dressed in Trump attire or America’s national colors of red, white and blue. Those in line appeared excited and cheerful to have the Republican presidential candidate in their state and hometown.
For Kevin Whiteman, what he wanted to hear from Trump the most was for Americans to not give up on themselves. He was one of several early arrivals outside waiting to get into see Trump hours before the doors opened.
“There’s a lot of negativity in this country that Americans are stupid and lazy and don’t want to succeed,” Whiteman said. “That’s not true. We can save the world. We’ve done it before.”
Whiteman also expressed his concern about the “violent” and “radical” Islamic terrorism that he believes faces the country.
“There’s a problem out there. Closing your eyes to it, is not going to solve it,” Whiteman said. “We’ve saved the world on many different occasions, from Nazism, from the Japanese Empire, from communism. You know what we can do it again folks, but we need to do it united.”
Local musician and retiree Pete Thayer said he hoped to hear Trump speak about bringing back jobs for America. While his former neighbor Gail Shepard, who was there with her grandson, said she was there because she believes Trump is “the answer for America.”
“I’m here because I support Trump. I feel like he is an answer for America and a second chance to get America back and it’s our only chance to get America back,” Shepard said. “If Hillary Clinton gets elected our democracy is going to end.”
After the rally several supporters gathered outside to talk among themselves, while others headed for the parking lots. New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White was among the crowd and stated that he thought the event was “peaceful” and was pleased with the outcome of the event.
Kure Beach residents Mike and Judith Moore agreed. “It was very peaceful. We were pleased with what we heard,” Mike Moore said.
Related stories from Trump’s visit to Wilmington
Julius Skyler, a resident of Carolina Beach, spoke of his reaction to Trump’s message after his hour-long speech. He said he believed the rally was more “toned down” than what he had seen in past Trump rallies and saw a more focused message.
“Good crowd. Think he’s going in the right direction. I was pleased with it overall,” Skyler said. “I do agree with the basic message. We do need to get the political elite to start listing to people. So I’m very satisfied from that perspective.”
Skyler said he’s followed the presidential campaigns “rather closely” and is still listening to all candidates in the presidential race.
“I’m trying to decide whether or not I would go with Trump,” Skyler said. “I think we need change. I’m all about change…I came here to observe and to hear how the message has been honed over time. So I feel satisfied with that. I engaged with the protesters earlier. I went to a Hillary thing two weeks ago and talked to those people. And I’m not getting a lot of energy. I’m getting a lot of energy here … and a lot of desire for change.”
Amy Bonds and Heather Marino said they came out of the rally pleased. The two women were especially pleased to see other political spotlights such as North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and Former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani.
“I was very impressed. I liked what he had to say and how he said it. He was very eloquent,” Bonds said.
Photos from Donald Trump’s rally in Wilmington