GOP strategist wonders if Trump can fill Raleigh arena

Donald Trump campaigns in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Thousands are expected to attend on Friday night when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at Dorton Arena at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

There will be plenty of demonstrators, too, outside the arena who oppose Trump’s views.

The fact that Trump will be at Dorton Arena, which has more than 5,000 fixed seats but can sit 7,600 with people on the floor, is intriguing to strategists.

“I’ve never seen a candidate just send out a press release and say, ‘I’m going to be at Dorton Arena, y’all come,” said Carter Wrenn, a longtime Republican strategist.

Wrenn has worked on campaigns for 40 years experience working on campaigns and wants to see if Trump can fill the arena.

“I can’t think of a political figure that could have done that and filled it up,” Wrenn said.

Trump’s campaign has been marked by bold, and provocative, statements.

“The sort of bellicoseness of it and even the rudeness or the confrontation, I think that’s just taking the current trends in politics just a step further,” Wrenn said.

He added, “He’s running as a strong man.  The thing that drives him is we want somebody that can whip the budget, whip the deficit, whip ISIS.”

Wrenn says there are Republicans, in particular in Washington, who fear Trump because he’s an outsider.

But he said there are also Republicans who value Trump because of the hard line he takes. Wrenn said Trump is willing to give strong opinions and “let the chips fall where they may.”

In the end, will that translate to votes?

“We’re dealing in unknown territory.  Trump’s a new phenomenon so nobody really knows how this comes out,” Wrenn said.

Wrenn said Trump is showing that he’s tough, but the voters will need to decide if they believe he has the judgment to do what he has promised.


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