President Donald Trump visits Charlotte on campaign stop

John Park, The Appalachian Weekly News Associate Producer

Crowds filled the parking lots of the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte on March 2 in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally. 

Like clockwork, police guided cars into parking spots and vendors set up early in the morning as spectators filed into the aluminum barriers to begin the long wait in the city that will host the Republican National Convention in August. To keep the crowds entertained during the wait, a large screen played “The Real News Update,” a webcast from the Trump campaign. 

There was, however, one person there before the crowds showed up. Sharon Anderson, of Etowah, Tennessee, drove the nearly five hours to Charlotte on Thursday to be the first person in the rally. She camped out in the parking lot for four days through varying weather conditions. 

Her patience was rewarded during a speech from Eric and Lara Trump in which they brought her up on stage to say a few words. Anderson was visibly emotional and delivered a speech that the crowd of 9,000 cheered for. During her remarks, Anderson emphasized how thankful she was for the president. 

“Every day, there’s not a day that goes by that we sit at our table at my house and I don’t thank God for (Donald Trump) being in the White House and ask for his protection,” Anderson said. 

Eric Trump then bestowed the supporter with a signature red hat which read “Keep America Great,” Trump’s new campaign slogan.

After several speakers like internet personalities Diamond and Silk, Senator Thom Tillis and Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump made his entrance to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” He opened his speech with, “In eight months, we are going to defeat the radical socialists. We’re going to win the great state of North Carolina in a landslide.”

John Park

Trump’s appearance in North Carolina that night was not just an ordinary campaign stop. Instead, the president and his campaign chose the stop the night before North Carolina was set to vote on Super Tuesday. The campaign has implemented a strategy of showing up in a state the day before it holds its primary. Before Charlotte, the president held a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina on Feb. 28 and Mike Pence held a rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 21. 

“We like to go the night before one of (the Democratic) primaries. We like to do a little trolling,” Trump said.

The president highlighted his accomplishments during his administration such as pulling troops out of conflicts around the world, nominating two supreme court justices and the success of the economy.

“Today we just had the largest one day increase in the stock market in history,” Trump said. 

Trump also addressed the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus. He said his administration has taken “the most aggressive action in modern history” to protect Americans against the virus.

“Today we met with the big, great pharmaceutical companies, and they’re really working hard and they’re working smart. We had a great meeting today with a lot of great companies and they’re gonna have vaccines, I think, relatively soon,” Trump said.

Several companies are working on drugs that are in their clinical trials now, but a vaccine will likely not be available for another year.

The campaign stop for the president was not just a rally for his accomplishments. Trump also made sure to point out politicians from the area who have helped his administration and the Republican Party as a whole.

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) was complimentary of the president.

“Thank you for being the best commander-in-chief since Ronald Reagan. Thank you for killing the terrorists over there so they can’t hurt us over here,” Graham said. “Thank you for sticking with Judge Kavanaugh.”

Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina was in attendance too, and received mixed reviews from the crowd of his constituents. Cheers and boos were both audible as he took the podium alongside Trump. Tillis asked the crowd to bring him back for six more years and to bring the president back for another four. He also asked the crowd if Trump had kept his promises including lowering taxes, supporting taxes, and appointing judges. There was a resounding yes to all of Tillis’ questions and he invited the crowd to go and vote for him and the President at the polls the next day.

“Have you gotten tired of winning?” Tillis asked. “No,” the crowd replied. “Do you want to win some more?” Tillis asked. “Yes,” the crowd said.

The president did not shy away from attacking his political opponents during the rally, calling each of his Democratic opponents nicknames. Trump notably went after Biden for mistakes he made during campaign stops in the days prior like calling Super Tuesday Super Thursday and referencing the wrong state that he was in on the campaign trail.

“He’s constantly naming the wrong state,” Trump said. 

The democratic candidates were not the only targets of pointed words at the rally. When the president was discussing the crowd size of his rally compared with those of the democratic candidates, he invited the mass of press on the risers behind his supporters to spin their cameras around. As the crowd booed, few on the risers obliged the president, which prompted Trump to say “They don’t turn them. But if there was some kind of trouble in a little corner, anything to make us look bad, that camera would turn like a pretzel.”

Trump finished out the evening with a standard stump speech to fire up the crowd of over 9,000 supporters inside and more in the overflow crowd outside. He spoke about the border wall, which is now a plank in his platform, protecting Second Amendment rights, and supporting the military by giving an additional $200 million to Fort Bragg and $300 million to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. 

“We have made America wealthy again. We have made America strong again. We have made America proud again. We have made America safe again. And we have made America great again! Thank you. Thank you North Carolina,” Trump concluded.

Trump won the Republican primary in North Carolina March 3, claiming 93% of the ballot with 747,015 votes. He is expected to win the Republican nomination at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte this August.