Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took on Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and immigrants in a wide-ranging speech before a crowd of thousands in Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday.
Responding to a speech critical of Trump that Obama made earlier Tuesday, Trump said Obama was angrier at him than he was at the perpetrator of the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.
“The children of Muslim immigrant parents are responsible for a growing number of terrorist attacks,” Trump said. “Political correctness is deadly. They don’t want to talk about the problem.”
Referencing the attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino, Calif.,Trump said there are reports that people knew what the shooters were planning. “People knew that bad things were going to happen, and they didn’t report (it),” he said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
A day after he gave a focused speech in New Hampshire, Trump returned to freestyling, remembering his past debates and imagining a future America under a Trump presidency.
He read the lyrics of a song, “The Snake,” which he associated with immigrants. It describes a woman who took an injured snake into her home; the snake then bit her.
The crowd cheered his familiar lines about building a wall on the southern border. In a call and response, the crowd shouted “Mexico,” when he asked “Who’s going to build it?”
Trump was interrupted at least twice by protesters. Twenty people were removed from inside the coliseum, according to Brian Cheek, Greensboro’s deputy police chief, including seven who were arrested.
Police made more arrests outside while barring protesters from crossing a street to confront Trump supporters. There were no reports of fights.
Carlos Gabriel, 16, waved a Mexican flag to protest Trump’s immigration proposals, which include the border wall and mass deportation of people in the country illegally.
“I’m here to defend my family, not just my actual family, but every Latin and Hispanic that is here, every shade and color, white, black, brown, doesn’t matter where you’re from, we’re all the same,” Gabriel said.
A Trump supporter at the rally, Mike Tilley of Greensboro, said he wants a businessman in the White House.
“He’s not part of the establishment,” Tilley said.
Tilley, 56, said he was not deterred by reports that one of Trump’s business ventures, Trump University, defrauded students.
“I think that’s just a talking point from the people who want to knock him out,” Tilley said.
Supporters at the rally saw Trump as the candidate most likely to keep America safe, or as a stronger alternative to Clinton because of his willingness to speak his mind without reservation.
“Immigration and terrorism are two of the biggest issues (that concern me),” said B.J Greene, a longtime Trump supporter who arrived at noon to be near the front of the line. “Open borders are leading to acts of terrorism.”
Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, and on Monday added that he wants to “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”
Gunther Peck of Duke University said in an interview before the rally that the immigration ideas Trump laid out Monday are not practical or serious, and would damage U.S. foreign policy.
Suspending immigration from areas with histories of terror against Americans ignores the fact that the Orlando gunman was born in the United States, said Peck, an associate professor of history.
“Donald Trump is speaking to an old tradition in America, a paranoid tradition,” he said.
Trump came to the rally after attending a fundraiser at the home of Louis DeJoy and Dr. Aldona Wos.
Wos is a major Republican fundraiser who was Gov. Pat McCrory’s first secretary of health and human services. McCrory attended the fundraiser but not the rally.
At the rally, Trump called Obama “one hell of a lousy president” to cheers from the crowd. “He has done a terrible job.”
“We’re led by stupid people,” Trump said. “That’s going to end, folks. That’s going to end.”
He said Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is not a friend to women or the LGBT community and does not have the temperament to be president.
“If Hillary Clinton becomes president, I don’t know that our country would ever, ever come back,” he said.
Ahead of the rally, the Clinton campaign issued a statement from Democratic U.S. Rep. Alma Adams accusing Trump of responding to the Orlando shooting with “unhinged rhetoric.”
“In contrast to Hillary Clinton’s steady, smart approach, Donald Trump responded with the same divisive, anti-Muslim rhetoric that shows he’s temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief,” Adams said.
Harveland McCallister said he became a supporter after a Chicago rally for Trump was canceled amid protests. McCallister said although he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says, he paid closer attention to the candidate after protesters silenced him.
“The riots in Chicago were unbelievable,” McCallister said. “He should have at least had the right to speak even if the entire city didn’t like what he had to say. He should’ve had the right to speak, but he basically felt terrorized by these terrorists (protesters) and he was forced to cancel that speech.”
Deonna Cook, inspired by Trump’s messages of tightened borders and stronger national security, attended her first political rally Tuesday.
Cook arrived outside the coliseum with her son at 5 a.m. – nearly 14 hours before Trump’s rally was planned to begin.
“I believe him when he says we’re going to kick the crap out of ISIS, he’s going to take care of the vets, he’s going to take care of the policemen, he’s going to build the wall. I believe in everything that he says,” Cook said.