WILKES-BARRE — Amidst chants of “USA” and “build a wall,” Republican party front runner Donald Trump gave a speech that fascinated the crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena Monday night.
Trump, though roughly 20 minutes late, wasted no time getting to the heart of his Pennsylvania faithful.
“Make sure you mention natural gas, we’re behind it 100 percent,” Trump said his son, Eric, who was in the audience, reminded him before coming out. “And coal.”
From immigration to natural gas, jobs to Obamacare, the jam-packed arena cheered wildly as Trump presented his policies to the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
His views on manufacturing jobs, illegal immigration and boarder patrol were a hit with the crowd.
Trump said he talked to statisticians who told him that the state of Pennsylvania lost 35 percent of manufacturing jobs since 2001.
“They’re going to China, they’re going Mexico, they’re going to Vietnam,” he said of those jobs.
“We don’t know where the hell they come from,” Trump said of illegal immigrants, asking if they were members of ISIS or “the great Trojan horse.”
But the people in the crowd responded the most when Trump made one of his most famous — or infamous — statements: “We’ll build a wall.”
Trump said the country “needs to change things.” He talked about delinquent payments by NATO and protecting other nations besides America. Trump said an “early thing” he’d do if elected would be to approach the “wealthy” nations and ask for back payments. He said that countries think America is “stupid.”
“We’re no longer the stupid country (that protects nations who have late payments),” he said to cheers.
He urged the crowd to vote Tuesday, telling people that if they vote for him, they’ll remember the vote as “the single greatest vote I ever cast.”
His speech touched on his policy for Middle East, calling the region “a big, fat, ugly mess.”
“We’ll build three schools in different countries in the Middle East, they get blown up, we rebuild them,” Trump said. “But if we want to build a school in Pennsylvania, the government says we have no money.”
Boos from the crowd ensued when Trump mentioned the current government has spent over $4 trillion in the Middle East.
“If our politicians went on vacation 15 years ago, we would be a lot better off in the Middle East than we are now,” he said.
Trump didn’t disappoint the crowd that cheered during mentions of “Crooked Hillary” (Clinton) and “Lyin’ Ted” (Cruz). He dismissed both of the presidential candidates during his almost hour-long speech.
“She’s got bad judgment,” Trump said of Clinton. “It’s criminal,” he added regarding her use of private email accounts during her stint with as Secretary of State.
Based on the news Sunday night that Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich “colluded” — conspire — to keep Trump from getting the needed 1,273 delegates, Trump told the crowd that “Cruz can’t do it himself.” He told the crowd his campaign calls Kasich “one-in-43” because of Kasich’s lone delegate win in Ohio. Trump said a contested convention won’t be needed, as he’s confident “I’m going to win on the first ballot.”
The Republican front-runner said he cares about “winning this nomination, beating Hillary Clinton and doing a great job for our nation.”
And Trump reminded those in the audience, how much he loved Pennsylvania.
“I went to school in Pennsylvania, my son (Eric) went to school in Pennsylvania, my daughter (Ivanka) went to school in Pennsylvania,” Trump continued.
Before the speech, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Lycoming Township, took the stage to pump up the crowd of nearly 12,000.
“Donald Trump is going to make sure your children are going to have a great future,” Marino said to cheers.
Barletta told the crowd that Trump can’t be bought by lobbyists or corporations, as he’s self-funding his campaign. The Hazleton native called Trump’s campaign a “movement.” Trump used the same word during the speech, when talking about his supporters.
Though unconfirmed by arena or Trump staff, Trump stated that 6,000 people were unable to get inside the arena. He called his supporters “the smartest and by far the loyalist.”
Trump’s Wilkes-Barre area visit was his third of the day Monday, following rallies in Warwick, Rhode Island, and West Chester. He was also the only candidate this cycle — Democrat or Republican — to come to Luzerne County.
Before leaving the stage, Trump thanked the arena for “a good time” and reminded them to “get a good’s nights sleep, and start (voting) early,” before he reiterated his feelings for Pennsylvania with an “I love you.”
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko.