Trump stirs controversy with address at Trask

Noah Thomas | Sports Editor

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A quick turn of events brought Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States, to UNC Wilmington’s campus Tuesday afternoon, where a capacity crowd awaited him at Trask Coliseum with thousands more waiting outside.

Trump’s visit was coordinated and hosted by the UNCW College Republicans. The organization had worked with the Trump campaign in order to finalize for weeks in advance, but the official news was not revealed to the public until late last week.

UNCW College Republicans Executive Vice President Jessica Ortiz was given the opportunity to speak at the rally prior to Trump’s introduction late in the afternoon. Her address focused on bringing attention to what the nominee can do for women, as well as minorities.

“To be able to speak in front of so many people on the same stage as major politicians was surreal,” Ortiz said. “I will never forget this day. I had such a blast on stage endorsing Donald Trump and having the crowd so excited to vote for him in November.”

A number of major political figures from across the state and nation converged on Wilmington in support of Trump. In addition to Ortiz speaking, Governor Pat McCrory and Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, offered their opinions on why Trump should be the country’s next president.

McCrory took the time to promote his own platform for re-election this November. Once on stage, he immediately condemned the overturning of North Carolina’s controversial voter identification law and bashed Attorney General Roy Cooper, his Democratic opponent, saying Cooper “refuses to do his job.”

He also used the spotlight to boast his own accomplishments as governor, mainly referring to the first substantial pay raise for teachers in more than 15 years.

“This administration gave the largest pay raise in the United States last year,” he said. “For the first time, average teacher pay was over $50,000 in North Carolina.”

Governor McCrory returned to the stage a few minutes after his speech’s conclusion to introduce Giuliani. A representative of the state of New York, similar to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, he used a majority of his time to explain why Clinton is unfit to be be president.

“He is running because he loves America, because he appreciates what America has done for him and made possible for him and his beautiful family,” he said. “He wants the same thing for you,” he continued, while insisting Clinton would substantially raise taxes on the middle class — a legislative move that would inhibit those possibilities.

When Giuliani finally called Trump to the stage, the crowd inside the coliseum exploded in cheers. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared from the buildings speakers, and Trump slowly made his way onto the podium.

For a long time, Trump raised no controversial plans his campaign had not revealed previously. He hit on familiar topics such as immigration, outsourcing of jobs and the alleged failure of the Obama administration.

He continued these usual remarks by taking multiple shots at the media, saying when he was running in the Republican primaries he “took a lot of heat from the press — the world’s most dishonest people, by the way.”

Midway through his address, however, he began to discuss the imminent appointment of a ninth Supreme Court justice and how a Clinton decision could affect those in attendance.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said, admitting it would be a “horrible day” if Clinton were elected president and decided to go after the 2nd Amendment. “Although the Second Amendment, people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Since then, multiple outlets and organizations have taken into consideration whether Trump’s comments were threatening, even when delivered in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

A Facebook post made by “The Rachel Maddow Show” included a video of the remarks and said, “Joking tone or not, it’s hard to justify talking about killing your political opponents at a campaign rally.”

Despite the many thousands of people gathered on campus in support of Trump, there were many who did not approve of his visit, citing their belief that many of the billionaire’s ideas and qualities clashed directly with the best interests of the immediate Wilmington community.

“Donald Trump is the enemy of women, immigrants, the LGBT community and people of color,” said Mansha Kakar, president of the UNCW College Democrats. “As a political student organization that constantly promotes diversity and equality for all people, we cannot rightfully support Trump’s appearance in Wilmington, especially on our campus, where students and faculty belonging to demographics mentioned above are made to feel unsafe because of the upcoming event.

“We recognize the right of Trump and his supporters to host and attend a rally held in a public institution, and encourage everybody to educate themselves on the policies and values of all political parties and their candidates, however,” she said. 

The event did not occur without any complications — at approximately 12:33 p.m., a bomb threat was called in to a building on UNCW’s campus. According to a UNCW spokesperson, the threat was handled and cleared by law enforcement officials on scene without incident.