WILMINGTON – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Wilmington on Tuesday afternoon, drawing thousands of people into the University of North Carolina – Wilmington’s Trask Coliseum.
After being preceded on stage by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump took the stage as “God Bless the USA” played over the speakers and the 5,000 people inside the arena cheered and waved signs.
The businessman from New York touched on several topics during his hour-long speech, including the recent repeal of North Carolina’s controversial voter identification law, which was struck down by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 29.
“What’s with voter ID? Why don’t we have voter ID?” Trump asked, saying he was worried about “fraud” and one person’s ability to possibly vote 15 times for his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. “I will not tell you to vote 15 times [for me].”
McCrory had earlier told the crowd he would appeal the ruling to U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and Trump repeated that promise to reach up to the highest court.
Trump often railed against Clinton, calling her “unstable Hillary” and saying she lacked the judgment to be president.
“It’s one thing to make bad decisions. It’s another thing to be wacky and make bad decisions,” Trump said as the crowd erupted. “She is disdainful of the rules set for anybody else … She’s not a leader, and she’s a liar.”
On more than one occasion, Trump mentioned the National Rifle Association and their endorsement of him. According to the candidate, he and his sons are card carrying members of the gun rights group.
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment,” Trump said as the crowd booed loudly. “If she gets to pick her judges – nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”
That statement drew fire online, with several people questioning whether he was insinuating that gun violence be used against Clinton. On Donald Trump’s official campaign site, Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller wrote a response titled, “Trump Campaign Statement on Dishonest Media.”
“It’s called the power of unification – Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” Miller wrote as clarification of Trump’s quote. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”
Trump also declared his support for veterans and the armed forces, a message that resonated with residents of what McCrory calls “the most military-friendly state.” He also called for the country to stand behind law enforcement, something he said Clinton would not do.
“I want to work with our police,” Trump said, saying he would restore law and order. “Our police are so incredible. They’re not getting the respect they deserve.”
Though the rally was peaceful throughout, a couple people were escorted from the arena toward the end, though they would’ve gone unnoticed had Trump not said anything.
“I like the Hillary protesters. You know why? They’re so nice and quiet,” Trump said. “The Bernie [Sanders] protesters were brutal, they were tough … The Hillary protesters had no spirit.”
Though Clinton won North Carolina’s Democratic primary in March in a landslide, Sanders took New Hanover County by a slim margin. According to Trump, many of those that backed the Vermont senator will be voting for him come November.
“I think we’re going to get a lot of Bernie voters, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “Because they do understand that trade is killing us.”
Before exiting the stage to the Rolling Stones’ classic, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” Trump repeated the phrases that have become the signatures of his presidential campaign.
“We will build a wall. That’s legal,” Trump said, saying the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants from the “southern border” would stop under his watch. “Walls do work. Walls do work.”
Trump, whose daughter-in-law Lara is a Wrightsville Beach native, praised the people of North Carolina and said it was very important to win the battleground state in order to win the presidency.
“We’re going to start winning. We’re going to put America first. We’re going to make America safe again,” Trump said. “But never, ever forget, we are going to make America great again.”
Photos from Donald Trump’s rally in Wilmington