Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke for just under an hour to thousands of supporters in Greensboro on Tuesday evening, hitting opponent Hillary Clinton on a pledge to increase the number of refugees that are resettled in the United States and trying to paint her as hypocritical on women’s and LGBT rights.
Trump’s supporters did not quite fill the mini arena at Special Events Center at Greensboro Coliseum, in contrast to a visit last September when over-capacity crowds for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders watched the address on a video in an overflow area.
A couple hundred protesters gathered outside the arena, and a dozen or so were ejected during periodic disruptions that the candidate took in stride, making quips like, “Be very, very gentle with him,” and, “His parents are going to be very angry at him tonight.” The predominantly white crowd booed the protesters and roared disapproval at the mention of President Obama, Clinton or the Affordable Care Act.
“We can’t be led by weak, ineffective people,” Trump said. “They’re weak and they’re ineffective. And, believe me: Hillary Clinton — ineffective and weak. I don’t know if you know she has 550 percent more people she wants to come in than Obama from a certain area where we just don’t know what’s going on. We don’t know where they’re coming from. There’s no documentation.”
Clinton told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in September that she would like to see the United States increase the number of refugees it accepts from 10,000 to 65,000 — an increase of 550 percent, Politifact confirmed. The news organization found that a related claim by Trump that there was no vetting of refugees was false.
Trump’s comments in Greensboro vaguely referenced the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday.
“We want to live in a country where gay and lesbian Americans and all Americans are safe from radical Islam,” Trump said. “Which, by the way, wants to murder, and has murdered gays and they enslave women.”
Omar Mateen, the shooter responsible for the Orlando massacre, was an American citizen, according to various news reports.
Twice during his speech, Trump wove together criticism of Clinton’s plan to increase refugee settlement with charges that a foundation jointly operated with her husband accepted millions of dollars from countries that oppress women. The charges were previously raised by Republican Sen. Rand Paul during his unsuccessful bid for president last year, and by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Politifact confirmed in 2015 that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton foundation from 2001 to 2014.
“Now, Hillary Clinton talks about women, and she talks about — she plays the woman card more than any other human being I’ve ever seen in my life,” Trump said. “And frankly, I don’t even think women like her from everything I see. And yet she’s taken $25 million from certain countries — and much more than that when you add it up that treat women horrendously.”
Raising the prospect of an increase in refugees from Syria, whose resettlement North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican governors want to halt, Trump warned, “This could be the all-time great modern-day version of the Trojan horse, folks.”
Near the end of his speech, Trump read from the lyrics of a song “The Snake,” released as a single by soul singer Al Wilson in 1968, about a woman who finds a snake half frozen near a lake, and takes it home to lie by the fireside “in a curvature of silk” with honey and milk, with the inevitable outcome that she is bitten. The recitation is a reprise of a practice Trump began during the primary. He teased the audience with repeated introductions, digressing on to other topics or pausing to wait for a protester to be escorted out before finally reading the piece.
“You have to think of this in terms of Islamic terror,” Trump said. “You have to think of this in terms of our border. You have to think of it in terms of all the people that are crossing, that are criminals, that are killing people and hurting people.”
During a second introduction, he seemed to lapse into pessimism about his prospects for winning the presidency.
“It’s really sort of amazing because it just works,” Trump said. “What you have to do is think about what we’re getting into. We’re letting in hundreds of thousands of people into our country. We don’t know anything about ’em. We do know though it’s gonna be trouble. And again, it doesn’t take a lot. It doesn’t take a lot. It takes 2 percent, 1 percent. It takes two people. It doesn’t take a lot. But it’s gonna be much more than that. And we are gonna see things over the next number of years like you’ve never seen, I really believe — unless I’m elected president.”
Trump’s appearance drew a number of Republican officials, along with a legendary North Carolina stock-car driver. Dressed in his trademark hat and sunglasses, Richard Petty joined Trump onstage but did not give any remarks.
Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, spent more time talking about economic successes in the state under Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly than about his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
State Sen. Trudy Wade of Greensboro and Sheriff BJ Barnes gave more full-throated endorsements of Trump.
“Instead of wringing his hands and worrying about what other countries think of us, Donald Trump will put America first and protect all Americans,” Wade declared. “Now everyone knows that our highest priority needs to be keeping our children safe — all of our children. Donald Trump has told the American people that he will keep them safe by making our military the best in the world and by destroying ISIS.”
Barnes added, “Ladies and gentlemen, the direction we’re going right now we will not keep our republic. We need a Donald Trump in Washington.”
Trump closed his speech by promising boundless success for the United States if he’s elected president.
“We are going to start winning again,” he said. “We’re gonna win at every level. We’re gonna win so much that you’re gonna beg me: ‘Please, Mr. President, we’re winning so much. We can’t stand it, Mr. President. We cannot stand it. Please, a little less winning, Mr. President.’ I’m gonna say, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna do that.’ We’re gonna win, win, win, and we’re gonna make America great again.”