By Pete Zamplas- Presidential candidate Donald Trump told a packed crowd of 7,000 people in Asheville on Monday that if elected president, he will revive the economy with more jobs and greater standard of living, national security, trade balance, empowerment and policy direction.
Speaking in the U.S. Cellular Center under a banner with his Reagan-esque slogan about making America “great again,” the fiery and crusty New York real estate magnate is going after the Tar Heel State and other battleground states.
Many national polls show him closing the gap against former Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and within a point in N.C. A CNN poll last week showed Trump ahead nationally 45-43 percent among likely voters, with Libertarian Gary Johnson (7%) and the Green Party’s Jill Stein (2%) siphoning votes.
Trump defined the election Nov. 8 as a choice of integrity, and direction on numerous issues. Specifically, he said the day after the 15th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks, the nation must deal stronger in pacts and economic sanctions with rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran and terrorist threats at home and abroad. He noted he is building a team with Amb. R. James Woolsey, CIA director under Bill Clinton, now a Trump senior advisor.
“Job-killing regulations will be canceled,” Trump pledged, along with tax cuts for business and individuals. “Millions of new jobs will come pouring in.”
Also at stake is the course of federal tax and spending, national debt, immigration flow, crime, military preparedness, executive orders that bypass legislators, school choice, and “Obamacare” national health care he said has driven up medical premiums. He wants veterans to have an option to bypass V.A. care, to get prompter private medical care.
He amplified possible appointment of a handful of Supreme Court justices, due to advanced age of several on the highest bench which can shape law in its legal interpretations.
“This is our last chance together to take it back, to fix our rigged system and create prosperity,” Trump said with his customary crispness and fist pumping. He was on stage for 45 minutes, pausing a while for a lady in the crowd to get medical attention and briefly as nine hecklers were led out. He started his speech eight minutes early.
He chastised Mrs. Clinton and Pres. Obama as too soft on the nation’s enemies, instead harsher on ally Israel and internal political rivals. He depicted her as a seasoned political “insider” ingrained in bribe-seeking from special and foreign interests, attacking him rather than revealing her true legislative agenda, and now belittling his most ardent followers.
Nearly 15,000 emails she had as secretary of state on a private, easier-to-hack server rather than better-secured, more transparent channels were detected by the FBI, according to a court hearing last month. Some reportedly reveal she sought and got millions in foreign officials’ donations to the Clinton Foundation and its Clinton Global Initiative, in return for donors getting access and more favorable policy from her. Trump lashed at such “pay to play” corruption, and her allegedly having most damning emails intricately “bleached” away.
Then at a fundraiser in New York last Friday, Clinton offset Trump’s own image as insulting when she ripped core Trump supporters as narrow-minded. She claimed half are a “basket of ‘deplorables.’” The next day, she did not take back that wording. Instead she stated that half may be exaggerated.
In opening for Trump in Asheville, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said of allegedly elitist, condescending Mrs. Clinton “we’ve always known why we don’t like her. Now she told us why she doesn’t like us.”
Longtime (since 2002) 11th Congressional District GOP Chr. David Sawyer, an attorney in Bryson City, told The Tribune “honesty, integrity and trustworthiness” are soaring to join the economy and national security as chief Trump-Clinton issues. This is based on his discussions with voters across WNC. He sees a “very close race, down to the wire” in N.C., with the GOP gaining steam and apt to prevail in pivotal contests. Split ballots are apt to rise, as this is the first presidential election since N.C. two years ago did away with party slate voting.
Clinton “viciously demonized the American voter,” with such “lies and deceptions of a failed political establishment,” Trump told the crowd as he seeks a coalition including blue collar Reagan Democrats and independents. “Hillary Clinton has been running a hate-filled, negative campaign with no policy, no solutions and no new ideas,” he said.
“While my opponent slanders you as ‘deplorable’ and ‘irredeemable,’ I call you hard-working American patriots who love your country and want a better future for all of our people.” He said the next president should be one who “cherishes you and totally defends your dignity and respect.” He vowed to be “your champion in the White House.”
Such remarks drew thunderous approval. He tweeted soon after the rally that “the spirit of the crowd was unbelievable.” All 7,000 tickets went fast to sit for the event, first-come once doors opened three hours ahead at 3 p.m. A line started at 5:30 a.m.
Keever Slagle, 17, and brother Hunter Slagle, 20, both of Marion, said jobs are their main issue. Keever was most impressed with Trump wanting to renegotiate trade deals such as NAFTA, to reverse jobs going to other countries. His friend Dalton Mann, 17, wore a provocative anti-Clinton T-shirt referencing Monica Lewinsky.
McDowell Sheriff Dudley Greene said right after the rally he was most moved by Trump’s stance to better fund law enforcement and the military. Trump said people should be able to walk in downtowns without getting “shot.”
Protestors amassed just outside the arena. As supporters filed by there were isolated shoving and verbal jousts, but reportedly no major fights and arrests. A heckler inside rolled up a shirt, to reveal “Feel the Bern” (Bernie Sanders) scribbled on his tummy
Outside, Sanders supporter Jasmine Winchester told The Tribune that unlike many friends who converted to Clinton, she will write in Sanders as a protest versus both major parties.
“Hate speech” is how a protestor described Trump’s rousing speaking style. But British BBC TV reporter Angela Scanlon, among media covering the rally, sees a silver lining from Trump’s off-handed remarks. She said by veering from script he seems an atypical politician who is authentic, passionate and more convincing in his views.