Locals and UNCW students react to Trump’s Trask rally

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in UNCW’s Trask Coliseum about major problems within the United States political system on Tuesday as a part of his 2016 campaign. 

Robert Manion | Contributing Writer

The UNCW College Republicans and the Campaign for Donald Trump hosted a rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Trask Coliseum at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

It was the Trump campaign’s first visit to southeastern North Carolina since the presidential race began. Tickets went on sale on the Trump campaign website Sunday afternoon, and attendees began lining up for the event as early as 5:30 a.m. for the 2 p.m. event.

Even after hours of waiting, many were not allowed to enter the coliseum, which held over 5,000 attendees.

Spectators, including undecided voters, attended the event hoping that they would get to hear Trump without the bias placed upon him by news media outlets.

Dan Cable, a 62-year-old Southern Baptist, Wilmington resident and retired health physicist, is a Trump supporter who agrees with the candidate’s stances on controversial issues, such as the deportation of undocumented workers and the screening of Muslims living in the United States.

“I think if you stop giving benefits to all people who are not U.S. citizens, then they’ll leave,” he said. “You have to protect your homeland and your citizens first.” 

He is also a supporter of the New York businessman because of his potential to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I’m pretty down on Hillary and the mess she’s done,” Cable said. It is hard to trust someone who has never had a real job and garnered the majority of her power by way of her husband’s presidency,” he said.

Cable’s hope for Tuesday’s event, like many others, was to be convinced that Trump is the right decision for the United States and that the candidate will be a step in the direction of prosperity for his two children and nine grandchildren.  

UNCW philosophy and religion major and ex-Marine infantryman Jose Herrera, 28, came to the campaign rally to witness “the real truth” of the Trump campaign’s message, which has been tainted by social and news media outlets, he says.

“Every election has general claims being made about each candidate,” Herrera said. “I don’t trust the news media — it’s too biased. I want to see the man himself. I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, hear his honest opinion and where he comes from.”

He went into the event with doubts about Trump’s capacity to solve the United States’ most pressing issues.

“Personally, I don’t put too much faith in people with that much power,” he said. “We need community leaders. We have communal problems.”

An organized protest of around 50 set up in front of Trask Coliseum before the event — small in proportion to the size of the crowd of supporters in attendance.

Freelance writer and political activist Ben Baker, 31, organized the demonstration with recent UNCW M.B.A graduate Carter Jewell and members of the local Wilmington community.

“Here’s how I see it: This is a man who has tapped into the fear of change and has managed to portray America as a place that is not moving forward,” Baker said. “But we are.”

“I’ve been to 12 countries in the past three years, and America’s pretty awesome,” Jewell said, refuting the claim that America is not as “great” as it once was.

Security officials working at the entrance of Trask Coliseum took the pictures of protesters in order to prevent them from entering the event, Jewell said. But she was glad to see that many of her friends who were neither protesting nor supporting were still able to enter.

UNCW physics major and Air Force Reserve member Josh Moser, 24, and not a Trump supporter, but he attended the rally in order to participate in and witness the current political happenings.

“I’m not particularly in support of anybody,” he said. “I just wanted to see for myself how this plays out. We need to take a good hard look at our democracy, because I don’t think it’s what our founding fathers intended.”

North Carolinian YouTube personalities Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, also known as Diamond and Silk, and Governor Pat McCrory spoke in support of Trump and condemned Clinton during the moments leading up to the candidate’s address.

“Not only is Trump going to build that wall, but he is going to build that wall and build it tall!” one of the women said. “To the protesters: It is time for you to sit down and shut up!”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also spoke, introducing Donald Trump and showing support for the North Carolina Governor.

“This is a real revolution,” Giuliani said, referring to the Trump campaign. “It’s a peaceful revolution, but it’s a revolution nonetheless.”

He chastised the “tight little crowd” that is the political establishment in Washington and denounced candidate Clinton for being a part of it.

“We need someone who isn’t bought and paid for,” he said. “I can tell you this from being the Mayor of New York: We need somebody to come in with a broom and clean the damn place out!”

Trump identified the nation’s key issues, pointing to this year’s slow economic growth rate and reduced per-capita income in “real wages” from that of 18 years ago as evidence that the United States is in need of political change.

“What’s going on in this country is insane,” he said. “It’s time.”

The Republican front-runner spent a large portion of his speech denouncing candidate Hillary Clinton, whom he called “a liar.”

“If she gets elected, she will cause the destruction of this country from within,” Trump said. “If she gets elected, she will do damage.”

Trump blamed the Obama and Clinton administrations’ economic policies for producing the “weakest economic growth.”

“It’s actually amazing that our country is still going,” he said. “[Obama]’s been a horrible president. He’s done a horrible job.”

Obama’s decision to appoint Hillary Clinton to the position of Secretary of State, he said, was “an embarrassment to our country, and it always will be.”

The thousands of Trump supporters in attendance made themselves seen and heard and far outnumbered their opposition and others who came just to witness the spectacle.

But the opposition was also in attendance, albeit in smaller numbers.

“It’s shit,” said Terri Jaeklein, a 64-year-old unaffiliated voter who was frustrated during the middle of Trump’s speech. “He hasn’t said anything. There’s no solution, there’s no plan. Who cares?”

However, many of those who supported Trump before the event returned home satisfied with what they had seen and heard.

“Now I want to send money to the NRA and Trump,” said UNCW Facilities Administrative Associate Sondra Pope, 56. “I want him to win. He’s better in person.”