With Ladd-Peebles Stadium roughly half full after a venue change to meet demand, Republican presidential candidate and real estate developer Donald Trump spoke to an enthusiastic crowd on issues ranging from the Affordable Care Act to immigration and even his hair at a “pep rally” for his campaign Aug. 21.
Trump took the stage to “Sweet Home Alabama” and remarked on his apparent popularity in the area, telling the crowd he had originally planned the rally in a hotel, before moving it to the “convention center” before, at the last minute, having to hold it in the largest venue in town.
Threatened by afternoon thunderstorms typical of the summer, Trump first spoke about the weather, calling it “dicey” before saying he didn’t care if it rained. He took his hat off and, referring to his hair, said a downpour “would prove once and for all it’s mine.”
Before the event started, Trump supporters, detractors and spectators were lined up from the entrance gate to about the middle of the stadium’s large parking lot waiting for entry. Jennifer Kittrell, a self-described Trump supporter, waited at the tailgate of a sport utility vehicle, holding a sign that read “Roll Trump Roll.”
“We need somebody who will stand up for what he believes in,” Kittrell said. “He says what he’s going to say and won’t back down.”
As part of his opening remarks, Trump touted his immigration plan. He admitted he took some heat initially, but said since then, “everybody’s apologized.”
Referencing two separate cases in California, he said a veteran was “raped and killed by an illegal immigrant.”
“We have to do something,” he said.
Trump used the appearance to once again tout his idea for a wall to be built along the entire border with Mexico. He told the crowd that 10 or 15 years ago more politicians agreed with him, but have had their “minds changed by lobbyists.”
On the Fourteenth Amendment, Trump said it was “too expensive” to let the babies of undocumented immigrants be considered citizens, based solely upon the fact they were born on U.S. soil.
“Other countries don’t work like that,” he said. “We’re just about the only place stupid enough to do that.”
Frank Barragan, South Alabama Regional Organizer with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, called remarks Trump has made on the campaign trail “very disrespectful.” Barragan said his group came to the rally to let people know they were rightful, law-abiding members of the community.
“Our primary purpose is to let people know we’re here,” he said, before the rally started.
He added that he wasn’t so concerned with Trump, but more concerned other GOP candidates seemed to be picking up his platform.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s a big concern because we can’t let that happen.”
Barragan admitted he didn’t feel like Trump truly felt that way about immigrants and called it “part of his show.”
Trump got cheers from the crowd during the rally when he said he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and replace it with something else. He told the crowd insurance companies are the biggest beneficiaries of the ACA and his plan would get rid of the “artificial lines” protecting insurance companies.
The candidate also took on President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, calling it “incompetent.”
Trump also took the the opportunity on stage to tout his success in polling data. He told the crowd he was leading in every poll and just about every state, including Alabama and Florida, home of two GOP rivals in former Gov. Jeb Bush and sitting Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Nationally, I’m way ahead of everybody else,” he said.
In other countries, he joked, they’d call for an expedited election. He then suggested holding the election the following day.
“I don’t want to wait,” he said.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).