He did little to dissuade his detractors, but for many of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s supporters, that’s what makes him such a compelling choice.
Trump made a campaign stop at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Monday, boasting his business acumen, pledging to end illegal immigration and end the loss of jobs to foreign countries.
“If I’m elected president, you are going to be so proud of your country again,” Trump said. “You're going to remember this evening and you're going to say to your children and to everyone else that we were part of a movement to take back our country. And we will make America great again.”
Trump is the current front-runner for the GOP nomination in a field of 16 candidates, and credits his off-the-cuff style as a major draw for his supporters. Tickets to the free event sold out quickly and brought an estimated 20,000 spectators to the arena.
The event also brought a large number of protestors who disagree with Trump’s recent remarks about immigration, a position Trump did not back away from during his speech.
Trump said he believes many countries, including Mexico, are sending criminals across the U.S. border and that a tougher position on security is required to end the practice.
"We have to stop illegal immigration. We have to do it," Trump said. "We have to build a wall, folks. We have to build a wall and a wall works. All you have to do is go to Israel and ask, 'How's your wall working?' "
Critics argue that building a wall along the southern border is impractical and costly, but Trump claims Mexico will foot the bill, thanks to his negotiation skills.
“When you have Trump negotiating on your behalf, they will pay,” he said. “Someday, when I’m gone, they’re going to name that wall after Trump.”
For his supporters, this tough stance on immigration is exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate.
Connor Choate and Davis Green both traveled from Coppell to hear Trump speak and said they weren’t disappointed in anything they heard.
“I support everything he said,” Davis said. “He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and we need somebody like that in the White House.”
Green said he agrees with Trump’s stance on immigration, but was more impressed with Trump’s remarks about strengthening the military.
“He’s right. We need a more powerful military,” he said. “Our military needs to be so strong that no one event thinks about messing with us.”
Dallas resident Annie Butler said she rode her bike to the American Airlines Center to see the spectacle.
“I’m undecided right now,” she said. “But I really agree with most of what he says. I think there are a lot of problems in this country that aren’t being addressed and he’s the only one offering solutions.”
While Trump’s positions may be a big draw for many, for other’s he represents a dangerous rhetoric that’s not in line with current state of the nation.
George Lugo was born in Mexico, but raised in McKinney. He said he came out to show support for other immigrants who have not achieved legal status in the U.S.
“I just think what he has to say is very disrespectful to people who are working hard to provide the best life for their families,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants and need to learn how to support those who come here looking for a better life.”