HIGH POINT, N.C. — Donald Trump stressed Tuesday in this manufacturing town that he is best suited to protect the country’s borders, its jobs and its youth, noting that the future of the many college-aged supporters in the crowd was at stake.
The GOP presidential nominee saluted the young people who had turned out for his rally, including students of host High Point University.
“Maybe you are just starting off on this incredible journey, and it is about quality of life, and it’s about safety,” the Manhattan real estate magnate said.
Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has sought to mobilize millennials to the polls to back her. The former secretary of state spoke to young voters Monday in Philadelphia while her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), did the same in Iowa.
Her campaign announced Tuesday the launch of a radio ad to highlight the stakes for African-American millennials. The spot is to run in battleground states including North Carolina.
Trump repeated his call Tuesday for black voters to back him over the Democratic Party.
“To the African-American community, I say vote for Donald Trump. I will fix it,” he said, citing crime in inner cities.
Later Tuesday, at a second North Carolina rally in Kenansville, Trump predicted that by the time next Monday’s presidential debate at Hofstra University comes around, Clinton would change her tone on national security “because it’s politics.”
“Hillary is all of the sudden going to get tough,” he said at the Duplin County Events Center. “The debate comes, and she’ll say I want strong borders.”
He told his supporters that Clinton shouldn’t try to adopt the phrase “extreme vetting” because he used it first.
In High Point, Trump attacked Clinton as wanting an influx of immigrants to the country. Trump has said the United States would be safer from terrorism if it limited emigration from regions where it could practice “extreme vetting.”
He charged Clinton with using harsher language with his supporters — calling them “deplorables” — than with terrorists.
In swing state North Carolina, absentee ballots have already been mailed and early voting is set to begin Oct. 20.
A poll by the right-leaning Civitas Institute last week showed Trump and Clinton are tied here while an earlier Quinnipiac University poll showed Clinton up by 4 percentage points.
The capacity crowd at the High Point University gymnasium, which a school spokeswoman said holds about 2,000, left many disappointed Trump fans shut out in a nearby parking lot.
Students here said Clinton is struggling with locking in the millennial vote where Obama did not.
Luke Tatman, 18, an entrepreneurship major, and Michael Stoudt, 18, a business major who donned a shirt reading “Reagan Bush ’84,” would be voting for the first time in a general election in their respective home states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
They said they supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in the primary election as the “millennial candidate,” but have come to back Trump as they learn about his policies on trade and taxes.
Stoudt said younger voters of any party might be turned off by the negativity surrounding the campaigns, but said Trump has appeal as a political outsider.
“Everyone’s just sick of the same political oligarchy that’s been controlling this country for years,” he said.