Donald Trump campaigned in Eastern North Carolina Wednesday evening, becoming the first presidential candidate to visit the region since Hurricane Matthew hit.
While he didn’t address hurricane damage at his rally at Kinston Jet Center, the Republican nominee sounded familiar themes in criticizing his Democratic rival, U.S. officials, companies shipping jobs out of the country and the Affordable Care Act.
“Job-killing Obamacare is just one more way the system is rigged,” Trump said. “The system is rigged, folks; it’s all rigged.”
He said while he would repeal the health law, Hillary Clinton wants to double down on it.
Of Clinton, Trump said: “She’s a very low-energy person. I saw it in the last debate. I think she did very poorly in the last debate, and then she was so exhausted she barely made it to the car.”
Flooding concerns in the wake of the storm forced the city of Kinston to issue a mandatory evacuation on Oct. 10. Since then, the water has receded but many people are still dealing with the damage.
Among the Trump supporters waiting for his speech was New Bern resident Cassie Haines, 46. While her home suffered no damage in Hurricane Matthew, many of her friends weren’t so fortunate.
“There was a lot of flooding,” Haines said. “People had their houses full of water. They’ve lost everything they have.”
The flooding was so severe, 11 of her co-workers could not drive to work one day, causing the company she works for to temporarily halt operations.
“That hurt us because we weren’t able to produce like we were supposed to,” she said. “We actually had to even shut down a couple days to accommodate people. Everybody’s been affected by it.”
Jay King of Jacksonville is protective of gun rights and said Trump needs to be elected so there can be U.S. Supreme Court justices who will strictly interpret the Constitution.
He worried that reducing the number of firearms could make the United States more vulnerable to foreign attacks.
“One of the few reasons that other countries haven’t tried to take over is because we’ve got more guns,” King said.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge held a news conference in Kinston Wednesday afternoon to remind the local community about Trump’s recent comments concerning women. Calling Trump “grossly unfit” to serve as president, Etheridge said Clinton would be best capable of unifying the country.
“It is clear the only ticket in this election that values the success of all people in this country is Clinton-Kaine,” Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, visited Wilmington Oct. 18 to offer his support to those who had suffered losses from the hurricane.
Though Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, have yet to visit hard-hit Eastern North Carolina, Clinton held a rally Sunday in Raleigh and former President Bill Clinton went on a bus tour throughout the eastern part of the state Tuesday and Wednesday. His schedule had him stopping at Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Wilmington, Pembroke and Fayetteville.