Thousands of Donald Trump supporters filled the North Atlanta Trade Center on Saturday to hear from the leading Republican presidential candidate.
It was a rare opportunity for Gwinnett County to host the leading candidate for a major political party’s presidential nomination. The rally drew about 8,000 people from across northern Georgia who cheered for the businessman and chanted his name repeatedly.
The cheering hit a fever pitch as Trump walked into the room to Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”
“There’s so much love in these places, it’s like it’s easy,” Trump told the crowd. “It’s not hard. It’s fun and I mean that.”
The comment prompted one supporter to shout “We love you, Donald!” in response.
Trump has been leading the expansive field of Republicans seeking to replace President Barack Obama next year in the polls for months. It remains to be seen whether that lead will carry over to January, when primaries and caucuses begin, or even to March 1, when Georgia and several other southern states hold their primaries on a Southeastern Conference-inspired Super Tuesday.
Trump called for the ending of Common Core, expansion of the nation’s military strength, better care for veterans, tax cuts, repealing the health care law commonly called “Obamacare” and immigration changes.
One part of Trump’s platform on immigration that has earned scrutiny from the media and immigrant groups is a plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and to have the Mexican government pay for it. He said he’s not against Mexicans, though.
He also called on revisions to immigration laws to “fight the whole anchor baby situation which is insane,” referring to laws that allow immigrants who give birth in the United States to stay in the country.
“I want people to come into the country, but I want them to come in legally,” Trump said.
He also took on a variety of groups, including his opponents for the Republican nomination, his critics, former GOP candidates, Hillary Clinton, special interest groups, lobbyists, PACs and the media during the speech.
At one point, he even took on naysayers who didn’t believe he was serious about running for president. He said he proved them wrong every time. He later promised his supporters that he would not give up and would fight for the nomination through next summer.
“I love this. I love the people. I love the passion,” Trump said. “We’re going to Cleveland for the convention and after that we’re going to beat Hillary, or whoever the Democrats select.”
The crowd responded to his confidence with excited cheering and chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.”
While Trump spent much of his time focused on a nationwide commentary about the state the nation, he also personalized some of his early remarks to fit a Georgia audience. He had Atlanta-based talk radio host Herman Cain speak before him, name dropped former Georgia Bulldogs star Herschel Walker and referenced UGA’s game against Tennessee that took place later in the day.
He pledged it wouldn’t be his last stop in the area, though.
“Atlanta is a special place and we’re going to be back,” Trump told the cheering audience as he wrapped up his hour-long speech. “We are going to make America great.”
Supporters remained enthusiastic about Trump’s speech as they filed out of the convention hall following the rally.
“He’s the only person who tells the truth,” Chatsworth resident Miryam Williamson emphatically said.
Curtis Whitlock echoed those sentiments and added, “He says what he thinks instead of what he thinks is politically correct.”
Marietta resident Ben Hendricks said he liked Trump’s commitment to military strength. He asserted that people feel the nation isn’t flexing its position as a world leader as much as they would like. Hendricks said he feels Trump would reverse that.
“He’s not scared,” he said.