Crowd cheers for Melania Trump, wife of GOP candidate Donald Trump
Around 1,000 cheering Donald Trump supporters came to hear his wife, Melania Trump, speak at the Main Line Sports Center Thursday afternoon.
The crowded roared in approval as Melania Trump stood in front of American flags and quoted her husband’s tag line, “Make America great again.”
Pennsylvania reminds her of her home country, Slovenia, where she grew up in a small town when it was a Communist country. There they always knew that America meant freedom and opportunity, she said, and that “if you can dream it, you can become it” here. People in her country were also inspired by Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America,” she said. She came to America to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
“I wanted to follow my dreams to a place where freedom and opportunity abounded,” said Melania Trump. “No one values the freedom of opportunity as an American more than me as someone who immigrated to America.” She obtained a green card, then studied and became a U.S. citizen in 2006. Melania Trump spoke of being a stay-at-home mother for her
son, Barron, and of her husband’s campaign.
Her husband “certainly knows how to shake things up, doesn’t he?” she said, to laughter and applause. “He knows how to make real change. Make America great again is not just a slogan.”
Over the years, her husband has seen American factories close and America workers suffer, she said. He got more and more frustrated, she said. While he built a good business and a good life, he could not “sit back and watch what was happening in our country,” she said.
During her speech, the crowd chanted, “Trump, Trump,” several times. At the close they yelled, “U.S.A., U.S.A.”
“What kind of country do we want? Do we want a country that is safe with secure borders?” she asked. “Do we want a country that honors our Constitution? That honors life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
Melania Trump added, “Where every child gets a good education? (And) where everyone gets a fair shot? Do we want Donald Trump to be our president?” The crowd cheered in approval.
If her husband is elected and she becomes the first lady, Melania Trump said, “It will be my honor and privilege to serve this country. I will be an advocate for women and for children.”
“We need to teach our youth American values (of) kindness, honesty, respect, compassion, charity...,” she said. She said that she would work to stop children and teenagers from being bullied on social media. While adults can handle “mean words” youngsters are more fragile, she said. Melania Trump also said that she would support her husband’s efforts to fight poverty, and ensure citizens have access to health care.
“We cannot have more of the same,” Melania Trump said. She asked the audience to “embrace a future that is worthy of our nation and these beautiful people… We must come together as a nation. We must treat each other with respect and kindness even when we disagree.” She promised that Donald Trump would make America safe and prosperous and proud.
“And with your help and God’s grace, yes, we’ll make America great again,” said Melania Trump.
Karen Pence, the wife of GOP vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, introduced Melania Trump, saying that she has gotten to know her during the campaign and speaking about her warmth, caring and along with her husband, their “passion for this country.”
Before the event began, hundreds of people waited in line to hear Melania Trump speak, some in patriotic garb and one man who was dressed as Donald Trump with a Superman cape. Some people wore Tshirts saying, “Basket of Deplorables,” referring to a derogatory characterization by Hillary Clinton about half of Trump’s supporters.
Frank Vozzo, 59, of Hatfield, said that the main reason he supported Trump was Washington, D.C., corruption.
“Drain the swamp,” Vozzo said. He also would like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ended or modified to “keep jobs in this country.”
“The third reason I’m voting for Trump is, I don’t want a crook in the White House,” he said.
Abington residents Alice Parsha, 72, and her husband, Thomas Parsha, 78, were also waiting in line. Alice Parsha supports Trump because “I hope he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do, shake it all up, and I can’t vote for Hillary.”
Her husband cited protection of the Constitution, including protecting the First and Second Amendment freedoms, as his main concern, as well as illegal immigration.
Dennis Egbert, 63, a member of Bikers for Trump, said he was a former union member and had voted for Democrats all his life, including for President Obama in 2008, but he is worried about the direction of the country now and how veterans are being treated. Egbert, of Harrisburg, served in the Marines during the Vietnam War era. He is also mentioned concerns about illegal immigration, the treatment of law enforcement officers and Obamacare, which he said, he could no longer afford.
“Mr. Trump gives me some hope for a better America,” said Egbert.
Peggy Murray, 53, of West Chester, took the day off work to attend Melania Trump’s speech.
She supports Trump because “the Democratic opponent belongs in prison and not in the oval office. No one is perfect,” she added about Trump. “But anyone in Washington is in no position to throw the first stone.”
Lena Barboza, 53, of Wyncote, said that she supports Trump because his policies most align with her views.
“I don’t like open borders,” she said. “Obamacare is a mess.” She also “cannot imagine having Hillary Clinton and her cartel being in charge of the White House (because of) the whole pay-to-play thing.” After what WikiLeaks has revealed, “I have no respect for her. I’m here to support Donald Trump and I think his wife is great.”
Barboza said that vandals have ripped down the Trump signs that she has in her yard about four times but she keeps replacing them.
There were no shortage of Trump/Pence signs at the event on Thursday. Also, pink signs that said “Women for Trump” and signs saying, “Make America Great Again.” Many people picked up signs on their way out.
However, Hillary signs made an appearance too earlier in the day as a handful of Hillary Clinton activists held a news conference outside the venue to counter Melania Trump’s speech.
Chester County Commissioners’ Vice Chairwoman Kathi Cozzone complained about various comments that Trump has made about women, saying that as the mother of a teenage son who she is raising to respect women, she worries how he could be affected by the things that Trump has said.
Kaylie Hawson Long of NARAL, an abortion rights group, also spoke in opposition to Trump’s pro-life stance and decried his derogatory comments about women that “Melania Trump cannot explain away.”
“His potential to make life worse for women in Pennsylvania is very real,” said Hawson.
Jacqueline Ayers, of Planned Parenthood Action Plan, said, “What’s at stake is everything we’ve achieved under President Obama. Donald Trump is no friend of women. He demeans women.”
And Christina Hartman, a Democrat who is running for Congress to represent the 16th District that includes parts of Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties, was also on hand. But as she spoke, Trump supporters, who were already lining up hours before the event, came over with signs in hand and began to shout slogans, drowning her words out. Hartman said later that her GOP opponent (Lloyd Smucker) supports Trump and “is a rubber stamp for him.”
Inside, the event began with prayers for America and a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The crowd chanted “lock her up” and “drain the swamp,” along with “Trump, Trump, Trump.”
One of the speakers, Carrie Almond, president of the National Federation of Republican Women, said that she’s been traveling the country to campaign for Trump and has seen “town after town with stores and gas stations closed. With Donald Trump, we have a successful businessman who will make our economy grow again.” While Hillary Clinton “has played the women card,” which she said was a “desperate ploy. We hold the women card because we hold the Trump card. Their tactics are not working.”
Rob Gleason, state GOP chairman, said that he’s been involved in Republican politics all his life and has never seen this level of enthusiasm for a campaign. He asked the crowd to knock on doors, make phone calls and to support the all the candidates on the Republican ballot when they vote on Tuesday.
“I wanted to follow my dreams to a place where freedom and opportunity abounded. No one values the freedom of opportunity as an American more than me as someone who immigrated to America.” — Melania Trump
Evan Vittoriano, left, and his wife Julie, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, wait in line with their children before a speech by Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, in Berwyn Thursday.
Melania Trump, husband of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks at the Main Line Sports Center in Berwyn Thursday.
Donna Cancassi, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, wears an outfit emblazoned with stars and stripes as she waits in line to hear a speech by Melania Trump in Berwyn Thursday.