RALEIGH Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) campaigned in North Carolina this week, visiting the Triad Monday night, joined by Gov. Pat McCrory and several members of the North Carolina congressional delegation to campaign at the Winston-Salem fairgrounds. The Republican presidential ticket then campaigned in Charlotte Tuesday.Drawing a crowd of approximately 5,000, including many members of the N.C. General Assembly, Trump’s address Monday was preceded by remarks from Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Virginia Foxx (5th Dist.), Rep. Mark Walker (6th Dist.), Rep. Robert Pittenger (9th Dist.), Rep. Mark Meadows (11th Dist.), and McCrory, among others.The show of unity comes after the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in which bringing the party together behind their presidential candidate was a major theme, a marked difference from the primary season in which Trump proved a divisive figure in the Republican party.McCrory told the Winston-Salem crowd he came to Raleigh as an outsider to fix a broken state government and said the same is needed in the White House.”We need someone from the outside to clean up Washington, D.C.,” said McCrory to cheers.In an overture to Trump’s hawkish stance on immigration and refugees, McCrory said, “Even the FBI doesn’t know who’s coming into North Carolina from Syria. That’s not right.”McCrory also lamented the rising costs of health care across the nation.”We need a new president from the outside who will end Obamacare,” said McCrory, earning his biggest applause of the night.Republican members of the General Assembly were out in force to support Trump, including Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanley); Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford); Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph); Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union); Rep. Rayne Brown (R-Davidson); Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan); Rep. Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth); and Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford).Excited to be there in support of Trump, Hager thinks the Republican nominee has a unique way of connecting with the people of North Carolina.”He’s about the working class guy,” Hager said. “He’s about the guy that struggles to pay his mortgage. He’s about the guy, or woman, that wants to send their kids to a better school. He really understands what it is to be American, and I think that’s why you see all these people out here.”After brief remarks from Pence, Trump took the stage to thunderous applause.Hitting on familiar themes from his primary campaign, Trump tackled the issues of bad trade deals, security and immigration, while wasting no time in attacking his general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.”She’s a fool,” said Trump of the Democratic nominee for president. Addressing the turmoil that preceded the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, he referenced the Wikileaks email scandal that revealed collusion between party operatives and the Clinton campaign to suppress challenger Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) resigned over the controversy, and on Monday was booed offstage by Sanders supporters. After her ouster, she was hired by the Clinton campaign into a leadership role as honorary chair of Clinton’s 50 State program.”I’ll bet a lot of [Sanders’] people come to us, and we’ll take them,” said Trump of the scandal’s fallout. “And the reason we’ll take them, and the reason they want to come, is because there’s nobody better on trade than I am.”Trump lambasted “stupid” trade deals he says have taken jobs away from North Carolinians.”Your manufacturing is down 50 percent in this area, and you know what it is? It’s federal policy,” said Trump of the Triad economy. “Jobs around here are scarce. We don’t have a 5 percent unemployment rate; we probably have a 20-21 percent unemployment rate.”The billionaire real estate mogul’s proposal to fix such labor market imbalances is to renegotiate trade deals that secure better terms for Americans.”We have to use our power of tariffs and taxes,” said Trump. “China dumps everything on us, and yet if you want to sell something in China, it’s next to impossible to get it in.”Trump said he would impose taxes on the importing of goods from companies that moved their manufacturing overseas.”We’re not gonna let them leave so easily anymore,” said Trump. “There are going to be consequences.”On the issue of NATO, which he has been accused of wanting to walk away from, Trump said he supports the alliance.”I don’t want to give up NATO,” said Trump. “But they gotta pay.”The United States contributes the vast majority of defense spending among NATO alliance members, despite the treaty’s requirement that member nations meet certain thresholds for such defense outlays.Wrapping up his nearly one-hour speech, Trump said he would return to the Old North State throughout the campaign because it is vital for him to win the general election.”I love this state, it’s a special state,” said Trump. “It’s a very special state and we’re going to win.”Clinton also made a campaign stop in Charlotte Monday, confirming the state’s critical role in the general election.
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