With the introduction, “And now for the next president of the United States,” given by Reince Priebus, chairperson of the Republican National Committee, Donald Trump took the podium at the Erie Insurance Arena on Friday afternoon, and addressed a crowd of an estimated 7,500 people.
“I’m going to bring jobs back to Pennsylvania,” he began, adding, “Pennsylvania has lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs to other countries.”
He used the Carrier Corporation as an example to explain how he would stop jobs from leaving the country. “If Carrier wants to build a plant in Mexico, that’s fine. But if they want to sell their air conditioners here, they’re going to pay a 35 percent tax to bring them in.”
The Republican presidential hopeful localized his economic message, as well.
“Do you know why GE is cutting back? It’s because we’re not taking care of our miners.”
Trump then used this point to contrast himself with Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton said she would put the mines and the miners out of business.”
He continued to criticize Clinton: “She said she would create 200,000 jobs in upstate New York, but that place is worse off economically than any place in the country.”
He also made some of his attack personal.
“Do you believe that Hillary Clinton said that she short-circuited during a recent interview? If I said that, they’d be calling for the death penalty.”
Contrasting the personal differences, Trump said, “She uses a Teleprompter, and she still sounds like a robot. I use no notes or Teleprompter.”
The GOP nominee was also critical of the mainstream media, tying it to support of Clinton. “CNN is the Clinton News Network. Fox is pretty good, though. Some of the media are OK. Maybe 25 percent of them.”
Once before Trump began speaking, and twice during his speech, some demonstrators were removed without further incident.
Outside of the 8,500-seat venue, at the corner of East Ninth and State streets, about two dozen protesters were holding signs, reading, “Donald Trump’s a fraud: He sends our jobs abroad.” (The Herald estimated that there were about 7,500 people gathered in the arena. An official count was not available Friday.)
Dave Robinson, a protester from Union City, said, “Trump is a puppet to corporations, and he offers the same economic plan as the Republicans did eight years ago.”
Daniel Doubet, a former Maplewood student who now lives in North East, attended Friday’s rally to ask Trump to provide his tax information.
“Donald Trump is supposed to be a great businessman, and that’s what his campaign is built on. So the fact that he’s not releasing his tax forms, that’s [like] trying to sell someone a used car without showing the documentation that it’s been taken care of, or what the history is.”
Doubet said that while the focus has been on all the “bluster and bigotry” of Trump’s campaign, voters still don’t know “if he really has any business acumen.”
However, the overwhelming majority of people inside the Erie Insurance Arena were supporters of Trump.
Ray Oshop lives in Waterford, and is a veteran of the Air Force.
“This is a different type of election,” he said. “The candidates are offering disparate and varied views.”
Some regional politicians were also in attendance.
Brad Roae, state representative from the Sixth Legislative District, said, “Donald Trump is more likely to keep taxes and spending under control.”
Former state Sen. Bob Robbins is now Trump’s state chairman for veterans.
“We’re going to have a Soldiers and Sailors kickoff rally in Pittsburgh on Aug. 17,” he said.
State representative for the 65th Legislative District, Kathy Rapp, stressed the importance of the upcoming presidential election.
“This comes down to a global economy versus national sovereignty.”
Rapp, referring to people she met recently at the Warren County Fair, said, “This is the most excitement I’ve seen for an election since Reagan. Many people have been registering to vote, and even changing their party affiliation.”
Rapp added, “There are three critical issues for this election: the Second Amendment, the right to life, and nominees to the Supreme Court. I’m pumped for Trump.”
Trump has allied himself with the NRA. While his views on abortion have gone back and forth through the years, in April, he said he would change the GOP’s platform position on abortion to include exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Near the end of his rally, Trump reiterated the issues which have become staples of his campaign.
“We have to stop the Syrian refugees from entering our country, because we have no idea of their backgrounds.”
He then held up a sign for the crowd to see, showing the number of refugees he said President Barack Obama has allowed in the United States on a weekly basis.
Trump also stressed the importance of the Second Amendment.
“I have no doubt that in Nice, France, or in Orlando, Fla., that if people would have legally been carrying a firearm, the carnage would have been reduced.”
The crowd at one point began chanting, “Build that wall,” repeatedly.
Trump allowed it to continue for a short period. Then he responded, “Don’t worry; we’re going to build a wall.”
Before Trump took the stage and as he was departing, the Rolling Stones’ song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” was playing through the PA system.
On Friday evening, Trump spoke at a rally in Altoona.
There, he told the crowd, “We’re going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”
The GOP candidate said, “If you do that, we’re not going to lose. The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on.”
Trump cited the turnout for his rallies as evidence of the state’s support for him.