At the end of the marathon campaign season, Donald Trump began his final push to Election Day with a rally in the early hours of Nov. 7 in Leesburg .
Originally scheduled to appear at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, the Republican presidential nominee didn’t begin speaking until 12:20 Monday morning. The cold weather, late start and long delay didn’t do much to deter the crowd. More than 2,000 crammed into the expo hall at the Loudoun County fairgrounds, with several thousand more outside.
In contrast to his appearance at his last stop in the county on Aug. 2, Trump addressed the crowd in a more subdued and concise manner, speaking for only about 20 minutes. He still packed many bold claims as well as strong criticisms at his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person to seek the presidency,” Trump said. “It’s up to the American people to deliver the justice.”
The knock on Clinton received raucous cheers from the audience, who stayed vocal and engaged throughout the delay. While waiting for Trump, more than a dozen Republican figures took the stage to address the crowd, honing on many of the same themes the GOP nominee has on the campaign trail.
With recent reports that health care costs will go up for millions across the country due to the Affordable Care Act, Trump has hammered president Barack Obama and Clinton for the act, and did so again early on in his speech in Leesburg.
“I’m asking for your vote so we can repeal and replace Obamacare so we can save health care for every family in Virginia and the United States,” Trump said.
Speaking in his fifth different state in less than 24 hours, Trump tailored his address to the Virginia audience. When talking about rebuilding the military, he said there would be new ships and submarines out of Norfolk and modern aircraft flying from Langley Air Force Base. He talked about his connection to the state through his properties in the Commonwealth, including Trump National Golf Course in Loudoun County and Trump Vineyards in Charlottesville.
He also cited Virginia incidents when reiterating his immigration plans, the often controversial policies that helped catapult him into the national political spotlight early on in the campaign season when he announced his candidacy in June 2015. He brought up the 2015 shooting death of Park View High School student Danny Centeno Miranda by a Mexican national as a sign for a needed increase of immigration reform and boarder security.
Trump has said repeatedly that his administration will build a wall between Mexico and the United States that the Mexican government will pay for.
“It may be almost 1 o’clock in the morning but I guarantee we’re going to build that wall,” Trump said to loud cheers from the crowd.
He expressed similar strong views on immigration from overseas and particularly the Middle East, saying Clinton would allow “basically unlimited immigration” that will “import generations of extremism.”
“When I’m president, I will suspend the refugee program,” Trump said. “We will keep them the Hell out of our country.”
Trump ended his speech, like he has across the campaign trail, boasting that his candidacy was “the single greatest political phenomena” and his win Nov. 8 would be “one of the great victories of all time.”
“We are one day away for the change you’ve been waiting for your entire life,” Trump said.
The event capped a frantic evening of rallies across the country. Trump spoke in Pennsylvania and Michigan Sunday evening before landing in Virginia. He will continue on to Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan later on Nov. 7.
With many national polls showing Trump trailing Clinton by only a few points, his campaign is hoping a late blitz across key swing states can continue to shift the tide in his direction. During his stump speech, Trump said he was winning or thought to be winning in pretty much every swing stage, including New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Trump knocked Hillary Clinton for taking time off the campaign trail to prepare for presidential debates and said she was fast asleep when he began his event in Leesburg. He said the frantic travel schedule showed his energy.
Attendees in Leesburg were also energized. The crowd’s size and enthusiasm created a sporting-event like atmosphere, with some getting to the fairgrounds as early as 9 a.m. Sunday morning. Many wore bright red “Make America Great Again” hats or held signs. Outside the venue, people hawked Trump merchandise and a wide variety of anti-Hillary Clinton bumper stickers and T-shirts.
Hundreds parked their cars more than a mile away from the venue before walking to join the thousands waiting in line on a chilly Sunday night, which was announced Saturday night. Dozens of Loudoun County Sheriff’s Officers and Virginia State Police organized for the event weren’t told about it until Sunday morning.
Before Trump arrived, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum gave a surprise address to the crowd. A Winchester native, the 2012 presidential candidate encouraged the audience to vote for Trump and to get others to do the same.
“Sleep is overrated. Donald Trump won’t get much sleep between now and Tuesday,” Santorum said. “If you love America, you won’t either.”
He was the first of a lengthy group of speakers to give a speech that was more provocative than Trump’s own address. While building up Trump as a candidate looking out for average Americans, he accused Obama and Clinton of being “certifiable traitors” to the country.
Also speaking was Virginia state senator Dick Black of the 13th district, part of which covers Loudoun County. He began an incendiary stump speech for Trump implying that Clinton was currently “sobering up” and that she should be incarcerated.
Black, who made headlines for his trip to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, later blamed the Clinton Foundation for U.S. intervention in the nation, as well as Libya and Yemen.
“I’ve worn the dress blues of the U.S. Marine Corps and I never expected to see marines being sold as mercenaries to the tyrants and dictators of the Middle East and Trump is going to put an end to it once and for all,” Black said.
He also blamed Clinton and Obama for what he considered America’s lessened perception in the world.
“There was a time the U.S. was respected in the world. Now were dreaded,” Black said. “They despise us because of the government of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The Christians of the Middle East are praying that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.”
The three-hour delay before Trump took allowed time for many other high-profile Republicans to speak. In addition to Santorum and Black, other speakers included Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Former Virginia Gov. George Allen; former House of Representatives member Tom Davis of Virginia’s 11th District; former Virginia state senator and delegate Jeannemarie Davis; Virginia’s 33rd House District Delegate Dave LaRock; Lt. Colonel Oliver North; former Virginia Secretary of Health Kay Coles James; radio show host Laura Ingraham; Trump foreign policy adviser Walid Phares; Republican Party of Virginia Chair John Whitbeck; former Republican National Committee chair candidate Suzanne Obenshain; and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr, who introduced Trump.