By Caroline Bowers & Jamie Cummings
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stopped in Asheville during his campaign trail to host a rally at the U.S. Cellular Center this past Monday night.
Approximately 7,000 people flooded into the center to catch a glimpse of Trump. He began by encouraging the audience to get out and vote on November 8 as well as laying out his plan to “make America great again.”
“This is our last chance to fix the rigged system and create prosperity for every American,” Trump said.
Supporters and protesters alike attended the rally to voice their beliefs and opinions on Trump and his policies. Accompanied by posters and wearing t-shirts, people from all different backgrounds created a combined front to either defend or attack the presidential nominee.
Nathan West, chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party, attended the rally and believes that Trump’s visit to Asheville was a crucial part of his campaign in North Carolina.
“We have been working with Mr. Trump for a while to get him here. Really it’s about making a statement in Western North Carolina and by coming to one of the most liberal areas in western North Carolina, he does exactly that,” West said. “It makes the statement that we’re moving forward with his campaign here, and we believe that he will make America a unified country again.”
Warren Wilson College student Léa Nadri, who is originally from Boston, participated in the protests taking place outside of the Cellular Center and acknowledged Asheville’s key role in Trump’s campaign.
“I think that North Carolina is a swing state, and Asheville is a controversial place. I think he expected a lot of protesters, but also there are obviously supporters in the area as well,” Nadri said.
In addition to expressing his own policies, Trump commented on opponent Hillary Clinton multiple times regarding her remarks that half of his supporters were a “basket of deplorables.” This comment by Clinton served as a rallying cry to unite Trump supporters against the Democratic nominee.
Nadri, among other protesters in the crowd, sees herself as a target of Trump’s beliefs because she comes from a Muslim, immigrant family.
“He (Trump) is a power-hungry man and will pass all-encompassing laws that will affect the entire country and eventually the globe,” Nadri said.
David Perkins attended the rally with his family from Knoxville, Tennessee and is a self proclaimed “die-hard Trump fan.” He believes that millennials should vote for Trump because he is completely different than previous candidates.
“It’s clearly a smart thing to do. Most millennials won’t vote for Trump because they think he’s a racist or a bigot or mean-spirited. But most millennials are spoiled,” Perkins said. “They’ve grown up in a generation that’s never had to work for anything or fight for anything or never had a depression to get over. Trump is totally different, and that’s why people are voting for him.”
Chris Melton, a military veteran, held a sign reading “veterans against Trump” at the protest outside the rally venue.
“There are other military members who, like me, don’t want Trump as President. He can’t handle the responsibility of being commander and chief,” Melton said.
The recurring message from many supporters was that Trump is different–that he’s a businessman who was not previously involved in politics, making him such a unique candidate.
“He’s not a politician. For so long our politicians have remained in office, or there have been dynasties, like the Clintons, who really use the position for their financial gain. This makes him better suited to run [America] like a business, as opposed to a big machine that benefits on you,” West said.