Supporters of President Trump attending the "Forgotten Men and Women" rally held on Oct. 24. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young
President Donald J. Trump held a short-notice rally at the Robeson County Fairgrounds in Lumberton on Saturday. This marked the president’s eighth campaign visit to the Tarheel State, as he hopes to secure North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
“When I’m elected, I will proudly sign the Lumbee Recognition Act,” Trump said, referring to legislation that recently passed a committee hurdle in the U.S. House of Representatives and could be taken up for a vote by the full chamber. A similar bill sits in the U.S. Senate.
A press release from former Vice President Joe Biden on Oct. 8, endorsed full federal recognition to the Lumbee. “It is past time for the federal government to rectify this injustice and fully recognize the Lumbee tribe, providing it with critical resources it needs to prosper,” read Biden’s statement.
“It should’ve been signed a long time ago and the people of North Carolina want that,” Trump said. He said it was his reason for campaigning in Lumberton. Lumbee Tribal Council member Jarrod Lowery took the stage first and addressed the crowd. An indigenous drum group also performed.
UNCP Chancellor Robin Cummings attended the rally and was acknowledged by the President. Cummings has received criticism on social media for attending the rally the day after he urged students, staff and faculty to avoid large gatherings because of the threat of COVID-19. Hundreds of maskless people at the rally were bunched up with others wearing masks.
Trump told the crowd his administration would support tribal sovereignty by protecting Native American cultures, history and languages.
“I’m fighting for every American of every background, race, color and creed, including Native Americans. That’s why we’re here. The last administration promised to bring hope and change to ‘Indian Country,’ but they abandoned you the moment they got your vote,” Trump said.
Some within the Lumbee community have expressed criticism of Trump’s sudden support of the tribe, attributing it to just another election year political ploy. However, despite the timing of the announcement, some appreciate being on the president’s radar.
Cochise Clark, a Lumbee tribal member is optimistic about federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe under President Trump. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young.
Cochise Clark, 53, an enrolled Lumbee tribal member, is thankful for Trump’s proposed recognition of the Lumbee, saying the recognition is long overdue.
“You have to take everything with a grain of salt. It is an election year, but he is the first sitting president to show any interest in us ever. So, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Clark said.
President Trump promised to help Native American communities fight the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women (MMIW), that plagues Indigenous populations. In addition, Trump also vowed for school choice for Native Americans.
Congressman Dan Bishop and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue were in attendance and spoke to the crowd beforehand.
In addition to Native American issues, Trump mentioned his administration’s trade deals with China and that he is the first president to “challenge” China in business matters. He promised to bolster American agriculture and generate manufacturing jobs in rural areas such as Lumberton.
Andrew Bailey, 52, of Suffolk, Virginia, drove over 200 miles to attend the rally. 2016 was the first presidential election that Bailey participated in and says he plans to vote for Trump this year as well. Bailey says this election is all about the economy and he trusts President Trump to lead the United States to an economic recovery. Bailey also urges everyone to exercise their right to vote.
“I don’t care who you vote for, get out and vote,” Bailey said.
The event yielded a turnout of approximately 3,000 supporters who screamed chants such as “Four more years,” “We love you,” and “Lock him up” referring to comments made about Hunter Biden’s ties to Ukraine.
Wyatt Jones, an independent, will vote for Trump because the Democrats have lost their way. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young.
Wyatt Jones, 61, of Lumberton, is registered as an Independent and says that he plans to vote Republican in this year’s presidential election. Jones listed his top three Presidents as Kennedy, Reagan and Trump.
“The nation is not being pulled apart by Trump, it’s the Democrats. They lost their way and they don’t represent the people anymore,” Jones said.
Trump said that Vice President Biden has said he will eliminate Social Security and played a video of Biden debating Bernie Sanders on the issue.
Trump discussed the state of higher education and said he will eliminate the “radical indoctrination” of students and bring back “patriotic education.”
Keeping with that theme, Trump promised to continue his support of the military, veterans and defense spending. He also made claims that ballots from military members who voted for him were found in trashcans.
The President also spoke of his administration’s efforts to make America the leader in space travel. Trump told his supporters that America will be the first nation to land a woman on the moon and the first to land a human on Mars. “We’ve already started the process,” said the President.
According to the Washington Post, 58.4 million Americans have already voted, which is a record high. However, North Carolina’s early voting numbers are currently less than they were for the 2016 election. The country will see which side the state swings on Tuesday, Nov. 3.