Trump supporters pack ECU arena ahead of Greenville Rally

North Carolina news

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Thousand of Donald Trump supporters are enduring temperatures in the upper 90s ahead of Wednesday night’s rally.

CBS 17 sister station WNCT reports the temperature at 3 p.m. stood at 95 degrees with the heat index reaching 105 degrees.

READ MORE: Trump slams congresswomen in Greenville rally; crowd roars, ‘Send her back!’

Images from the East Carolina campus showed tents up and flags flying.

The president’s supporters began to line up as early as 4 a.m. Wednesday ahead of his scheduled 7 p.m. speech.

“Trump is at our school. That’s exciting because I’ve never gotten to see him in person,” said ECU senior Cassi Poindexter.

Libby DiPiero told CBS 17 she got to Greenville two days in advance and has been to 50 of Trump’s rallies.

“I like the excitement and hanging around people who have similar interests,” DiPiero said.

Although school isn’t in session, several students returned to campus to hear Trump speak saying they wanted to show their support for him in the 2020 election.

Trump has made it known North Carolina is an important state for his reelection bid. He won the state in 2016.

A recent study by Public Policy Polling found voters divided about the 2020 Presidential election. In North Carolina, Trump has a 46 percent approval rating while 49 percent of voters disapprove of him, PPP found.

“I think it’s going to be another tight one, but I think if he keeps going to the right places like this, talking to the right people he can swing it again,” said ECU senior Robert Jones.

The president’s visit on Wednesday coincides with Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Fort Bragg and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stopping in Raleigh to talk about her tax credit proposal designed to expand school-choice options. 

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley said the president is welcome back to North Carolina for his 26th rally in the state.

“I am incredibly excited to welcome President Trump back to North Carolina,” stated Whatley. “President Trump has kept his promises to unleash the American economy, rebuild the military and promote an America First Agenda – all of which are helping the North Carolina economy thrive.”

Ahead of the rally, the East Carolina College Democrats released a statement saying they are not open to Trump visiting campus.

“We may be college students but we know childish behavior when we see it,” the group said in a release. “A real leader would not whine, as Donald Trump does daily, when they hear something they do not like.”

David Sugg was one of hundreds who waited for hours in line outside the arena.  He said many people drove from smaller, rural communities to hear the President speak.

“It’s important for Trump to come out here to the little towns to show that he still cares about America, even the little towns,” said Sugg.

Sugg said he feels Trump’s supporters are often misrepresented.

“Not all Trump supporters are hypocrites or racists or xenophobes. A lot just care about the country, and they’re in the Republican Party. Just like if there’s a Democratic candidate. They are going to support their candidate, just as much as we support our candidate,” said Sugg.

Also in line outside the arena, retired Navy veteran and “Women for Trump” supporter, Arielle Karathanasis.

“All I want him to say tonight is that he is going to stay in the fight, he is going to keep working to make America great and as long as he does that he has my full support,” she said.

Capt. Chris Sutton with ECU police said a designated area for protestors has been established outside the arena where the president will speak.

Ahead of Trump’s rally at ECU, the North Carolina Democrats also gathered in Greenville.

“North Carolina will play a pivotal role in returning a Democrat to the White House and giving them a Democratic Senate and House who will work together to lower healthcare costs, protect people with pre-existing conditions, invest in our middle class, and stop the political corruption that plagues Washington. North Carolina can’t afford four more years of President Trump’s corruption and broken promises, which is why we will hold him accountable every day until 2020,” said NCDP Chair Wayne Goodwin.

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