ELIZABETHTOWN — For the first time in Bladen County Republican Party history, a presidential campaign made a stop in the Mother County.
After a brief stop at Melvin’s for a visit with the staff and numerous photos, Lara Trump, campaigning on behalf of her father-in-law Donald Trump, stopped in at the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market in downtown Elizabethtown on Friday afternoon as part of a tour around southeast North Carolina.
People started gathering in the Farmer’s Market as early as 12:30 p.m. for the expected arrival of Lara Trump at 2:45 p.m. Among attendees was an exchange student from the Netherlands, who got her first-hand look at the American election process, and several teenagers who were too young to vote but turned out to support the Republican Party.
A Wilmington-area native, Lara Trump moved to New York City nine years ago “for about a year,” she said, where she met and eventually married Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s son, Eric.
“We have a movement in this country,” Lara Trump said Friday, “and I’m so proud to play a part in it.
“I was raised by a good North Carolina family with solid values,” she added, “and I would not speak on behalf of a man and a family I didn’t believe in. Donald Trump is genuine and will make a good president.”
Lara Trump went on to cite an old episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in which Winfrey asked Donald Trump if he would ever run for president, and Trump responded, “Only if things get so bad that I don’t have any choice.”
Friday, Lara Trump told the crowd, “And here we are. Things have gotten that bad.”
She went on to say, “As a woman, I would love to see a woman president, and I think that day will come soon. But Hillary Clinton is not that woman.”
Such statements may not have resonated with everyone. In what has been called the nastiest presidential campaign in history, voters like Linda Hughes are looking for positivity.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about how the Trump campaign wants to turn things around in the 45 days leading up to the election,” she said prior to Lara Trump’s arrival. “I’m hoping to hear positive things about Trump’s platform.”
Arguably, not since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 bid for president has one attribute so polarized a nation. The same quality — brutal honesty — that detractors claim makes Donald Trump unfit for president is used as the basis for others’ votes.
“Donald Trump is a man, not a politician, who speaks like we talk and says what we’re thinking,” Lara Trump told guests.
“He’s honest,” said Ty Perkins about why Trump is getting his vote. “He says what he means and, since he has his own money, you don’t have to worry about him being bought off by other people or saying what someone else wants him to say.”
Several statements elicited applause, but none so much as when Lara Trump asked the crowd, “Who is ready to say Merry Christmas? Who is ready for the Pledge of Allegiance?”
The stop in Elizabethtown was the final stop of the day, which included speeches in Lara Trump’s hometown of Wilmington, as well as Bolivia and Lumberton.
“We’re making a point to go to small towns,” said Kirk Bell, communications director for Donald Trump’s campaign in North Carolina. “They’re what make North Carolina work.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.