Trumps stump in Salisbury for early votes

Published 12:10 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — Americans have the same basic desires for the country, says Eric Trump, the second son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Americans want a successful and strong country, jobs that pay well, a strong military, senior citizens who are taken care of, a fixed education system and an end to corruption, Eric Trump said in a Friday speech in Salisbury.

“My father is going to end this nonsense and he’s going to make America great again,” Eric Trump said. “I’m so proud of him and I’m so proud to be in this fight with him. Make no mistake about it, guys. We are absolutely going to win this thing.”

As the 2016 presidential race enters its final stages and early voting begins, Eric Trump and wife Lara spoke to more than 200 rowdy Republicans at Thelma’s Down Home Country Cooking in West End Plaza. Speeches by the couple focused on ways the American economy and other areas of society have declined.

“What we have going on in this country right now is an absolute tragedy,” Lara Trump said. “Look around our home state. Manufacturing has left.”

She listed government regulations, taxes and the Affordable Care Act as items that have negatively affected small business.

Eric Trump listed nearly $20 trillion dollars in debt, an education system that’s “leaving behind the next generation,” 22 veterans per day committing suicide, insurance premiums increasing, students facing debt crisis, pensions running short on funds and jobs leaving the country because of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

America hasn’t seriously addressed its problems, Eric Trump said.

“We all want one thing in this country,” he said. “We want a successful country. We want a strong country. We want a country that has the strongest military on the face of this earth times two. I mean, we just want a strong country.”

The husband and wife pair said Donald Trump has solutions that will solve America’s problems.

“He has common-sense, real solutions for these problems and he is going to fix it,” she said. “I can tell you that for sure.”

Throughout the speeches, Eric and Lara Trump attracted loud, sometimes rowdy, applause. At times during the event, Salisbury resident Ronnie Smith ran up and down the aisles cheering and waving a Donald Trump sign.

Just before the Trumps spoke, Republican presidential nominee  Donald Trump received a rousing endorsement from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8. Hudson’s district now covers a majority of people who live in Rowan County.

“There are people all over this country who are struggling, working harder than they ever worked, and they’re not making it, just barely keeping their head above water,” Hudson said. “That’s what this election is about. That’s what Donald Trump understands, and Donald Trump is going to turn this country around for people like that and for people like you.”

Hudson framed himself as a conservative congressman who’s worked across the aisle to “get things done.” America also needs a president who knows what’s most important, he said. Donald Trump is the “only hope for this country,” he said.

The sentiments expressed by speakers on Friday were identical to the ones mentioned by attendees, some of whom said they have voted for Republican and Democratic candidates in the past.

The most common refrain among attendees was that Donald Trump is candid and is not a politician.

“He speaks his mind and he just puts it out there like it really is,” said Salisbury resident Carolyn Hall. “He’s for the people and he’s for us.”

Attendees also expressed a consensus about why they’d never vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“She a liar, plain and simple,” said Dianne Hall. “For me, Trump isn’t a politician and I think he knows how to handle money. He can help our country get out of debt.”

J.R. Rufty said she has voted for presidential candidates of both major political parties. Among other things, Rufty said she also likes Donald Trump because of his successful business past.

“He knows how to put the right people in the right positions and I believe that he will help our country bring back jobs, make our economy strong again, and I believe he will also do something about ISIS,” Rufty said.

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has been the subject of controversy because of sexually explicit comments and alleged sexual assaults, including a video of his off-camera comments during the taping of a 2005 show. During the second of three presidential debates, Trump said he never committed any of the acts described in the video.

Now, Trump trails Clinton by 2.5 percentage points in North Carolina and 6.2 percentage points nationwide, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

Rufty said she’s not worried about Trump’s remarks. A human resources professional, Rufty said past performance is a better indicator. Rufty and her husband, Ken Rufty, spoke extensively about how the “mainstream media” has influenced the election. If Trump loses the presidential race, it’s at least partially because of media coverage, the pair said.

Trump’s frequently controversial remarks inspired sisters Ceci and Annie Cardelle to attend Friday’s event in Salisbury. Annie Cardelle wore a white T-shirt with “Latina contra Trump” written in black marker on the front. “Contra” means “against.”

“I’m not exactly protesting his conservative ideology, but it’s more about his speech and like his rhetoric that he uses to describe Hispanics and Latinos and just people of color in general,” Annie Cardelle said. “In his speeches, he brings up people killed by immigrants, which there’s no basis that immigrants kill people more than everyday citizens. So, he’s contemplating that immigrants, and specifically Mexican and Hispanic immigrants, are criminals and murdering people.”

Ceci Cardelle said Trump’s speeches have emboldened people who believe that Hispanic and Latino Americans are second-class citizens.

“We’re American citizens, our parents are American citizens, and our grandparents are American citizens,” Ceci Cardelle said. “It’s this whole idea that you don’t really belong here, in this country, and that you’re not from here. We’re supposed to go back to where we are from, but we’ve lived here our whole lives.”

As a crowd of people formed a line for pictures with Eric and Lara Trump, the Cardelle sisters joined in and eventually got their chance to pose with the couple.

Annie Cardelle had a sweater tied around her waist. As they all smiled for the cameras, she pulled the sweater down to reveal her shirt’s message: “Latina contra Trump.”

If the Trumps noticed, they didn’t let on.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.