KINSTON, N.C. — Donald Trump, in rural North Carolina Wednesday night, pressed a no-holds-barred gambit to motivate his limited but fervent base, while chastising his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as he tried to reverse a slide in the polls.
“We are going to win North Carolina and we are going to win the White House,” Trump shouted to cheers from a crowd of almost exclusively white and mostly male supporters assembled on a tarmac at Kinston Regional Jetport, the White House hopeful’s private plane serving as a backdrop.
“We are going to stop the jobs from leaving North Carolina and we are going to start making things again in America,” Trump said.
He again slammed Clinton for using a private server to handle sensitive material as secretary of state, which the FBI called careless, but chose not to prosecute. He said she deleted 30,000 emails when the controversy surfaced.
“Nobody has ever gotten away with crimes — and I mean crimes — like Hillary Clinton has gotten away with,” Trump said to cheers. Clinton has “unbridled ambition and greediness,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump continued efforts to instill confidence in his supporters about his election prospects by listing priorities for his first 100 days, including abolishing Obamacare; renegotiating or scrapping trade deals he blames on the loss of jobs in the U.S.; combating illegal immigration with greater restrictions on all immigration, and promising to expand military spending on several bases in the region.
He also promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court who could overturn both the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made legal abortion nationwide and gun control laws.
At a rally earlier Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Trump mixed his campaign duties with private business. He highlighted his newest hotel as proof of his ability to run the country effectively. The event also included marketing pitches for the Trump business by the candidate’s daughter and executives, followed by a ribbon cutting.
“Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this country,” Trump said during a news conference for the hotel opening.
In the North Carolina rally, Trump accused a protester of being paid by Democrats to disrupt his rally.
Supporters of the billionaire shouted down the demonstrator with chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!”
“You can get him now,” he told the crowd. “ . . . It’s a disgrace”
Security officers escorted the protester out without injury or further incident.
North Carolina is key to Trump’s goal of defying several national polls that show him trailing far behind Clinton, and campaign analyses that gives him only a slim chance of winning enough states for victory in the Electoral College.
Trump supporters in rural North Carolina said they agreed with his claims that the polls were misleading, and that “closet” voters not open about their support for him will flood the polls on Nov. 8.
“Most definitely so,” said Mike McClellan, 29, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, of the potential for an Election Day surprise in Trump’s favor. “I drive a taxi and you could say I do a poll myself, of everyone from the Marine Corps who comes here.”
Many of Trump’s backers are less enthralled by his unconventional campaign and more interested in doing whatever it takes to defeat Clinton, said Vada Palma, 68, a retired administrator at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, a historic coastal port town about 70 miles southeast of Kinston.
“A lot of them are not for Trump, but they are against Hillary,” said Palma, a resident of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, attending her third Trump rally.
Palma said the lack of ethnic diversity among the throng of supporters at the airport was disconcerting, but she blamed what she referred to as the hollow promises of Democrats for the mostly white turnout.
“I’m just worried when I come and then I don’t see a lot of minorities,” she said.
There still remains a narrow path to a Trump presidency, according to political experts, with North Carolina being among the states he’d need to wrest from Clinton to take the White House.
“He can pull it out,” said Don Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute poll. This week, The New York Times Upshot/Siena poll found Clinton was 7 percentage points ahead of Trump — 46 to 39 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
“He needs to crack Clinton’s firewall in either North Carolina or Pennsylvania to get over the top,” said Lee Miringoff of the Marist College poll.
Until late September, Trump appeared to be heading for a neck-and-neck race with Clinton. But after several women accused the married real estate developer of inappropriately touching or propositioning them for sex, Trump lost ground and has struggled to regain past momentum. Clinton has seized on the allegations from his accusers as another reason Trump is unfit for office and an especially bad choice for female voters.
Trump, meanwhile, has called his accusers liars.
He has also repeatedly refused to say he would accept the election results if he loses, calling the entire voting system rigged.
Palma said that while Trump’s approach and prescription for fixing what he believes ails the country could be seen as less polished, his supporters hear him clearly.
“He may not be the most articulate man in the world,” Palma said, decked out in a fashionable red cowboy hat and Trump buttons. “But his message is something that everyone can understand.”