NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - President Donald Trump told a crowd of thousands at the North Charleston Coliseum that it is “an incredible time for our nation.”
“We’re thrilled to be in the midst of what we call the great American comeback,” he said. “Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, factories are returning, poverty is plummeting, confidence is surging and we have completely rebuilt the awesome power of the United States military.”
He also said the Republican Party has never been unified like it is now.
He took aim at a variety of targets including the news media and Hollywood. But most of his attacks were aimed at the Democratic Party, which he accused of trying to politicize the Coronavirus.
"We are preparing for the worst," Trump said. "My administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to prevent the spread of this illness in the United States."
He credited his administration's early actions for protecting the American people, but accused Democrats of calling the virus "Donald Trump's fault."
He also said he has created a White House virus task force, requesting $2.5 billion to ensure they have the resources needed to protect people from the Coronavirus.
"The Democrats said, 'That's terrible. He's doing the wrong thing. He needs $8.5 million,'" he said. "So I said I'll take it!"
He also touted the border wall which he said has gone up “like magic.” He said 132 miles of the wall built and will have 500 miles built by very early next year.
He also said the Trump Administration added another 225,000 jobs last month alone, for a total of 7 million since the election.
"The unemployment rate here in South Carolina has fallen to 2.3%, the lowest rate in your state's history," he said.
He said voters in the Palmetto State have had a front-row seat to the extremism of the Democratic candidates, referring several times to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.
“The insanity of the Democrat Party is why millions of registered Democrat voters are joining our movement,” he said. “They are joining our great new Republican Party. This November, we are going to take back the House, we are going to hold the Senate and we are going to keep the White House.”
At one point during the rally, he encouraged the Republicans in the room to cast votes during Saturday’s Democratic Primary for the candidate he could most easily defeat. He conducted an informal poll asking the crowd whether they thought that candidate would be Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden. The crowd’s applause seemed to indicate they felt Sanders would be the candidate Trump would have an easier time defeating in November.
This week, state lawmakers were considering a law that would close the state’s primaries. Under the current system, anyone can vote in either party’s state primary regardless of their own political affiliation.
Some South Carolina Republicans were said to be taking part in a protest called “Operation Chaos 2020” by casting a ballot during Saturday’s Democratic primary.
They are likewise urging fellow Republicans to vote for Sanders because they believe having Sanders as the Democratic nominee would give Trump an easier path to re-election.
“The Democrat Party is the party of high taxes, high crime, open borders, late-term abortion, Socialism, blatant corruption and the total obliteration of your Second Amendment,” Trump said. “The Republican Party is the party of the American worker, the American family, the American dream, and, of course, the late, great Abraham Lincoln.”
He said Republicans are fighting for citizens of every background, community and walk of life.
“This is not the old Republican Party. This is a very inclusive party,” he said.
Trump spoke for more than an hour and recognized U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott as well as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, inviting them each to speak briefly to the enthusiastic crowd. Shortly after 8:30 p.m., the president’s motorcade left the coliseum bound for Joint Base Charleston.
Some members of the cheering crowd had camped out since Thursday night to be among the first inside to attend the free event. Doors opened around 3 p.m. Officials said they expected more people to show up than the 13,000 seats available inside.
Air Force One departed from Joint Base Andrews at approximately 5 p.m. It landed at Joint Base Charleston at approximately 6:15 p.m.
Trump announced plans to hold the rally in South Carolina last week, saying making an appearance in a state just before its Democratic primary or caucus has been an “effective strategy.”
Prior to Trump’s arrival, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster led the crowd in a chant of “four more years.”
The governor quoted Gen. Mark Clark who said South Carolina has more patriotism per square inch than any place in the world.
“We are supporting Donald Trump because there’s not a greater patriot in the world than Donald J. Trump,” McMaster said. “We are lucky to have that man. Can you imagine what it would be if we did not have Donald Trump? Can you imagine?”
McMaster said more people are working in South Carolina than ever before.
“Taxes and regulations are going down and out growth rate is going up. Illegal immigration going down, military strength going up,” he said. “America is standing tall in the world.”
Transportation officials with the Charleston International Airport and CARTA told drivers and riders to expect some delays on Friday for those traveling around the area of the rally.
Officials issued a traffic alert Friday urging airport travelers to use Dorchester Road to Michaux Parkway as a primary route to the airport. People should check in with their airlines for any possible flight delays.
CARTA officials say they will have customer service available on Friday and will be giving updates to any delays or changes due to the president’s visit or traffic. People can call CARTA at 843-724-7420.
The president’s visit to the Lowcountry comes a day ahead of the South Carolina Democratic Primary.
Trump had told reporters earlier in the month that he had plans to visit South Carolina.
“I’ll be going to South Carolina,” he said at Joint Base Andrews. “They’re working that out now. Probably the day before, but you know, look, we have a big voice and we might as well use it.”
The South Carolina Republican Party announced back in September that it would not hold a Republican presidential primary in 2020.