A crowd of about 5,000 nearly filled a hangar at the Griffiss International Airport Tuesday afternoon to see and hear Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump on the campaign trail. And he did not disappoint.
To thundering chants and applause, Trump delivered for 45 minutes on everything from Oneida County’s massive losses in manufacturing jobs in recent decades to the need for a stronger military and why he’s the best candidate for the job in the party and in the general election. He wrapped it up with his signature line: “I will not let you down. We will make America great again.”
He opened courting the audience, proclaiming “a movement going on all over the country and it’s people like yourselves.”
He quickly took aim at the area’s recent history of struggles in manufacturing. The county, he said, has lost 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 1980, 50 percent since 1990 and almost 40 percent since 2000. “Is anybody working up here?” he asked frustratedly.” He continued: “What the hell is going on?”
Trump went on to criticize what he called rigged election systems; “The Republican National Committee should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.” He took on Democrat Hillary Clinton. “Her whole life has been one big lie,” he said, later stating “We will beat her so bad.” He called fellow Republican candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas a liar as well.
His biggest cheers came when he proclaimed: “We have to build our military bigger and better and stronger.” America must “wipe ISIS the hell out” then focus on other threats to national security while securing the country’s borders.
Some in the crowd were there to see the spectacle or the uniqueness of a presidential candidate’s stop in Rome. In those cases, some left early. Most, however, stuck around for the entire event, passing the time during the delay of almost an hour before Trump took the stage with sign waving and chanting. Hats in red or white emblazoned with Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan were everywhere.
Ed Sprock of Rome is a Democrat, but Trump is his candidate and he wasn’t going to miss such an event in his own backyard. “That’s an honor for him to come to Rome, New York,” he said. “Maybe he’ll see the former Air Force base and landing strip and see Rome has something to offer in the future. I think he’ll change the country.” He said he likes Trump’s economic revitalization plan to get jobs back in the country first. “It affects everything,” he said. “I think he’ll help with the crime rate,” he added while waiting for the rally to begin. He said the plan to do more to check the backgrounds of illegal aliens and former criminals is a good idea, to get “a true understanding of who they are and where they come from.”
Donna Tuthill of Verona said she came to the event because “I really want to hear what he has to say.” To be at a presidential campaign rally she said, “what an opportunity.” She said she likes Trump’s message about middle class values and disagrees with other candidates who want more publicly funded programs.
Pam Listovitch of Ilion said she has not made up her mind on which candidate to support, and was interested in learning more about Trump while participating in the experience of a presidential candidate’s rally. She said she likes Trump’s plan to lower taxes for the working class.
Primary day in New York is next Tuesday.