Donald Trump, despite making a concerted effort to stay on script, deviated from his prepared remarks Thursday during a rally here focused on military and veterans issues and asserted that top generals don’t want Hillary Clinton as their next commander in chief.
With a number of decorated veterans seated on stage behind him, Trump extolled their bravery as greater than his own.
“They’re so much braver than me. I wouldn’t have done what they did,” Trump said, veering off script before qualifying his remark. “I’m brave in other ways. I’m financially brave.”
The GOP nominee then referred to his invited guests, suggesting them to be representative of the military more broadly and its supposed antipathy toward Clinton, who could become the first woman to serve as president of the United States.
“To think of her being their boss, I don’t think so,” Trump said, before suggesting that active duty generals are simply following protocol by keeping mum about the election. “I know what they are thinking,” he continued. “It’s not for them.”
Before a crowd of close to 15,000 people gathered outside a floodlit outdoor stage, Trump continued to attack the Democratic nominee’s integrity, blaming her for the destabilization of the Middle East and speaking about the ongoing FBI investigation into her email server with his characteristic hyperbole.
“She shouldn’t even be allowed to run,” Trump said.
Trump’s second rally Thursday in rural, eastern North Carolina, came just as Clinton was rallying African-American supporters in Raleigh, where both candidates’ planes touched down about the same time just as the sun was setting. With fewer than five full days of campaigning left as of Friday, both are making urgent appeals to different constituencies in this state that both candidates view as critical to their candidacies.
After a more typical rally on the outskirts of Charlotte Thursday afternoon, Trump’s remarks here in the evening were more focused on military issues and foreign policy. Looking out at a lively crowd eager to react to his familiar applause lines, Trump mostly read from his prepared remarks, promising more robust military funding but a more isolationist foreign policy that was at times contradictory. He vowed to limit military involvement in “places we have no right to be” while promising to destroy the Islamic State no matter the cost.
“We have to do it,” he said.