HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) — After a nearly two-hour delay, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally before thousands of people at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory ahead of North Carolina’s primary on Tuesday.
The event, held at the university’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium, was expected to start at 10 a.m., but Trump’s flight was delayed due to fog. He started just before noon after being introduced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The pair sat down and Christie interviewed Trump on stage, discussing many topics including business, trade deals, Christianity and protesters.
“We have, with Mexico, a $58 billion trade deficit. And when I say we’re going to build a wall – which we will, by the way. But we’re gonna build a wall,” he said on stage. Cheers erupted. “They love the wall. We love the wall. We’re gonna build a wall folks, we’re gonna build a wall. Are you ready?”
The rally was then interrupted for nearly two minutes by protesters holding signs reading “Turn Away From Hate.” At least one man was dragged out by police.
Thousands of people were turned away around when the line was cut off around 10:30 a.m. Officials at Lenoir-Rhyne said more tickets were sold than there were seats in the auditorium.
“LR in no way endorses this or any other candidate,” Lenoir-Rhyne President Wayne Powell said. “However, as part of our commitment to the American political process we welcome the event and hope it will inspire people to engage in dialog about the values that are so important to our nation. We also hope it will help inspire everyone to vote.”
Supporters and protesters were amid hundreds waiting outside the university before doors opened. Some were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, others were holding signs that read “WWJD” and “Love Trumps Hate.”
Others were heard chanting, “Build That Wall.”
A sign was posted that listed prohibited items, including: Firearms, ammunition, explosives, weapons of any kind, aerosols, supports for signs, packages, coolers, thermal or glass containers, backpacks, bags and signs exceeding size restrictions, laser pointers, animals other than helper/guide dogs, structures, bicycles, and any other items determined to be a potential safety hazard.
LRU plans to hold a “Service of Healing” following the Trump rally.
“The service is being held to celebrate the diversity of God’s world, without regard to religious background, ethnicity, national origin, political association, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, or any other classification,” the university said in a press release.
As Trump’s schedule stands now, he will be in Bloomington, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Boca Raton, Florida, on Sunday. He has a rally scheduled after the Hickory stop for Monday night in Doral, Florida.
Presidential hopefuls Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both making their stops in Charlotte Monday.