By Lee Cox
Thousands of people came to the Knoxville Convention Center to see Donald Trump Monday night. There was a large group of pro-immigration protesters. Vociferous, yet peaceful, the protesters were opposed to both “The Don” and Republicans.
In his opening statement, Trump made it clear that the recent events in Paris would impact his remarks. “Radical Islamic terrorism … let’s talk about it. We have no choice. This is a real problem. Normally, I talk about trade … Today, I am going to be talking about something else. It’s like survival.” He promised to “solve the problem” by being tough, smart and sharp while “getting other people to do a lot of the work.”
He discussed gun control and the Second Amendment, which brought him back to the threat of terrorism. “Paris is one of the places of the world that is the toughest on guns … If you had twenty-five people in there that had guns, it would have been a totally different story.” He mentioned the Second Amendment and the potential impact it could have made in Paris. “We need our Second Amendment. We need protection. And we will have it.”
He was naturally critical of Obama, who gave him plenty of fodder by moving five Gitmo detainees overseas to the UAE. In the eyes of Trump, it was a “release.” He drew the contrast that while negotiating the recent Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry did not include the release of any American prisoners as conditions for the deal. Trump called it “the worst deal ever.” He stated that Iran did not need to “work on their nuclear weapon” program because America has supplied them $150 billion to simply purchase weapons.
Trump praised the crowd and expressed their frustrations. “What’s happening here is a movement. We are tired of stupid people running our government.” He also invited his supporters to work with him. “I want to do something special with you, with everyone, because everyone wants to make America great again.”
He turned to another side of his campaign by saying that he did not want to point out problems, he wanted to fix them. He mentioned, “I will be the greatest job-producing president that God ever created.”
To sum up his evening, he laid out plans for a great America clearly, if a bit broadly. His first step is to resolve immigration issues by ending amnesty. Then, to make great trade deals to stop job losses. Next, he plans to take care of the military and ensure our nation’s veterans are well treated. Finally, he said he wants to win on healthcare and education to make the citizens proud of their country. He also emphasized that the whole process must be completed quickly, because people have said that “the American Dream is dead, but we are going to make it bigger, and better, and stronger than ever before. We are going to make America great again.” Still, some issues, such as his controversial use of eminent domain to accomplish business goals at the expense of individual landholders, loom for his conservative detractors.
His supporters, however, like what he says. ”He speaks for the people, as far as what we are needing to do,” said Maria Smith, a Trump supporter since he announced his candidacy, ”We need a strong military, I don’t think that we have that right now. I think we are threatened with terrorism and we need somebody that’s got some crass.”
Another supporter, Bill, who doesn’t like career politicians, was impressed with Trump’s approach, “He will run the country like a business. He was not alone.
David and Debbie Nichols and Terri Hall were Trump supporters even though Debbie had her reservations. ”Personally I don’t care for him, the type of person he is, but what he’s standing for I am a firm believer in it”, showing how Trump’s low likeability factor may not always be a negative.
Terri liked his businesslike approach as well as his pro-veteran stance “He seems to care about our veterans” “I want what’s best for our veterans that are home, and that will be coming home.”
On the protestors’ side of the street, Emilia stated, “I oppose his demeanor of how he approaches us. He is so blatantly racist. Our side is over here screaming equality and screaming love and they are coming over here telling us to go back home.”
Another Trump protester, Justice, said Trump was not appealing to the working class, “he just supports the higher class, the rich… He has been rich his entire life.”
One thing for certain: Trump’s colorful persona draws a crowd, both sympathetic with his cause, and in opposition to his ideas.