NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A polarizing presidential candidate riled up supporters in Hampton Roads Saturday.
With USS Wisconsin as a backdrop, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump told the roughly 2,000 people that gathered, “It’s a very important election you know? I backed Mitt Romney. I backed John McCain. I was very disappointed both times. This time I said, ‘I’m just going to do it myself.’ We’re going to win. We’re going to win. We’re going to win,” Trump said to thunderous applause.
What was different about this Trump rally, Trump was less boastful. He did say this, “I’m loaded. The banks want to give me all the money, but I don’t need the money.”
Trump at the Wisconsin was more about substance. He delivered his first major policy statement, laying out reforms to Veterans healthcare at VA Hospitals. “All veterans eligible for VA healthcare can bring their veterans Identification cards to any doctor or care facility that accepts medicare to get the care they need. They can get it immediately. Immediately!” This line was one of the biggest applause lines of the day.
Another change was that Trump was reading from prepared notes. He was not ad-libbing, but was giving a thoughtful plan to fix what he thinks is wrong with the VA system, “It will be better than having these massive lines, and everybody waiting, and everybody going wild.”
Trump says Vets deserve choice: choice of doctor, and choice of medical facility. “The VA will become more responsive to veterans, develop more efficient systems, and improve quality of care because the VA will have no other choice.”
Trump singled out as a group what he calls “corrupt and incompetent VA executives.” He also thinks women veterans have been neglected calling it a lack of respect, “Under our plan every VA hospital in the country will be fully equipped with ob-gyn and other women health services.”
He also said, in Trump style, his veterans’ health care reforms will work because it’s his plan, “The departments will become more efficient, and if they are not efficient, you’re not going to have to worry about it. I’ll worry about it because you are going to have your care.”
Only on WAVY.com we caught up with Trump as he was walking the rope line meeting supporters. We asked him, what do you want to say to veterans? “I love the veterans. We’re going to take care of the veterans. We’re going to take care of the veterans,” Trump shouted back as opera was blaring through the speakers.
We asked him, what is your message to VA executives? “Make America great again. Make America great again.” We asked, have the executives let down America? Trump answered, “They’ve let down America, and the politicians have let down America.”
After Trump left, some veterans weighed in. Brian Watkins who is retired Navy liked what he heard. “If they use the civilian sector, that gives more places for people to be seen. I drive 45 minutes to the VA in Hampton which is fine, but if I could do it in Virginia Beach (that is better) to be closer to home.”
Jake Grubbs will soon be retired Navy, “Many are returning from many far away destinations, and they have PTSD, and I think that is a big issue that needs to be remedied.”
Cecil Greene who is Retired Army says, “I realize he (Trump) is a serious person, and that he is a person who is committed to getting things done.”