On the heels of a post-Republican National Convention bump in polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, along with Gov. Pat McCrory, took the stage at a Winston-Salem rally Monday night.
This was McCrory’s first appearance at one of Trump’s rallies in North Carolina, considered a major battleground state in the upcoming election. Several other state Republicans also spoke in support of Trump and in a show of unity—including U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, Mark Meadows and Renee Ellmers.
After an introduction from Trump’s running mate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump delivered a rambling speech that touched on trade with China and Mexico, immigration reform, “crooked Hillary” and “crazy Bernie.”
“We’re tired of being the country where our jobs are taken away,” Trump said, to cheers from the thousands gathered. “We’re tired of being the country where our military is being depleted. We’re tired of being the country where we can’t make good trade deals anymore. We’re tired of being the country where we have no borders. We will have a wall, and Mexico will pay for the wall.”
While the first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention was unfolding in Philadelphia, Trump first mocked Hillary Clinton and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who recently announced her resignation from the party leadership after leaked emails suggested the party undermined Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
“As soon as there was heat, [Hillary] said, ‘you’re fired.’ Boy did she give up fast—that’s a real strong person. You think ISIS is worried? We need strong,” Trump said.
He noted that Sanders had also “given up” by endorsing Clinton.
According to recent polls, Trump experienced a post-RNC bounce to take the lead against Clinton, although the significance of that bounce and the margin by which Trump leads Clinton vary among sources. At his rally Monday, Trump declared the RNC “a success.”
Monday’s appearance marks the third rally Trump has held in North Carolina in six weeks. He spoke in Greensboro in June and in Raleigh last month.
“I’m going to be in North Carolina so much, you are going to be so sick and tired of me,” he said.
Hillary Clinton also made an appearance in the state Monday morning, speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Charlotte. She has campaigned in Durham and Charlotte this year previously this year as well.
Predictions from FiveThirtyEight based on recent polls have Trump with a 60.5% chance of winning North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes in the election.
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During his speech, Trump brought up the importance of training and protecting policemen, indirectly referencing the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Our police are great people. They’ll do a hundred thousand great things and you won’t hear of one,” he said. “And if they make a mistake… and sometimes you have a rogue, you have a bad person, that happens but that gets on the nightly news for a month and half. That’s so unfair in so many ways.”
He also touched on the need to protect and reinforce U.S. borders from Syrian refugees and from illegal immigrants, one of his major policy positions. He argued that many immigrants actually want to return to their native countries.
David Allred, a North Carolina resident who attended the rally, said he appreciated Trump's discussion of national security and border protection and liked Trump's rallying cry of "Make America Great Again."
"Our salaries are lower, it's not like it used to be. Here we are upon retirement age and it's costing us more than it ever cost us to live. It shouldn't be like that," Allred said. "I think [Trump] really does believe in America, and I can't say that about our opponents."
Trump also criticized “unfair” trade deals and the “incompetent people” who negotiated them at length, calling NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever signed ever in the world by any country” and lamenting the outsourcing of jobs and companies leaving for Mexico. His position on trade policies has generally focused on U.S.-China and U.S.-Mexico relations.
“I want free trade. But it’s got to be smart trade, good trade. It’s got to be trade where we make a lot of money,” he explained. “I’m a person who wants to make great deals for this country. Call it free, call it fair, even call it unfair.”
McCrory’s endorsement of Trump focused on his position as an “outsider” and a non-politician.
“This is election is so important to me and why we need someone from the outside to clean up Washington, D.C.,” he said.