VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Donald Trump spoke at a Regent University forum in Virginia Beach Wednesday, fresh off of winning the Republican presidential caucuses in Nevada, which gave the billionaire businessman three straight wins in the race for the GOP nomination. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are vying for second place, far ahead of John Kasich and Ben Carson.
PHOTOS: Donald Trump at Regent
Trump began his speech at Regent acknowledging his big win in Nevada. “We did great with evangelicals,” he told the capacity crowd. After a few opening remarks, Trump brought his sons Don and Eric out on stage.
Preliminary entrance polls taken of Republican caucus-goers show that nearly 6 in 10 are angry at the way the government is working, and about half of them supported the billionaire businessman.
Trump was also supported by about 6 in 10 of those who said they care most about immigration, and nearly half of those who said they care most about the economy.
He addressed these issues during the forum. On immigration, he said, “People can come into the country, but have to be legal.” He added, “The Pope came out against me. Have you seen the wall around the Vatican?”
Trump sat down for a one-on-one interview with Regent founder and televangelist Pat Robertson for the remainder of the forum. Robertson asked Trump about taxes. He said he plans to cut them substantially, then talked about how China is “robbing” the U.S.
“Pat, will you come out here. Pat, one of the great people,” said Trump. The crowd erupted in the first of many loud sessions of applause. Robertson is the founder, Chancellor, and CEO of Regent University. Trump was on his best behavior, “I’m in Pat’s presence. I got to be a good person today at least for the next hour,” Trump said to great applause.
It was a toned down Donald Trump who talked about America losing the trade war, “Our trade deals, they are horrible. With China we lose $500 billion dollars a year, what kind of a deal is that,” Trump said to Robertson as the two sat in chairs next to each other. Of course the audience of 200 were supportive of most everything Trump said. Trump then concluded to great applause, “I hate to tell you folks, you need someone like me. I’m good at this.” Robertson laughed hard on that line.
Trump spoke about Carrier Manufacturing moving to Mexico, “Have you heard this…they are going to carry them across the border, they will probably have illegals walk them in because it is cheaper that way. No one checks them. It’s like every illegal gets an AC,” again big applause.
Trump said America needs free trade, but smart trade too. He said if he were President here’s what he would tell Carrier, “Here’s what you do. Every time you send an air condition unit to America we are going to add a 35% tax…they won’t move. I’m the most conservative guy in many ways, but you have to be smart.”
Robertson asked Trump about the Supreme Court. It was clear he doesn’t care for Chief Justice John Roberts, “You look at Justice Roberts. He could have killed Obamacare twice.”
Then Trump went to a place that even those in the audience didn’t buy, and laughed as he tried to reason his thought that it is Senator Ted Crews who gave us Obamacare. “The one who pushed hardest to get Justice Roberts appointed. Who was it? Senator Ted Crews. Senator Crews. So it is Senator Crews who gave us Obamacare in the true sense,” he said as the audience started laughing. Trump continues, “No, sure it’s true” as the audience laughs even louder. “They have editorials where he wrote why Roberts should be the judge and it was signed by Ted Cruz.”
Trump spoke about the military with the familiar lack of details, “We are going to make our military, bigger, better than ever before. No one is going to mess with us.”
Trump blasted the Obama administration for cutting bad deals, “You think how Iran is going. You give them a $150 billion dollars, and you got nothing for it. We should have gotten our prisoners back long before we were negotiating. We are not going to negotiate until we get our prisoners back.” He also suggested at one point he would tell them to give back the prisoners, and then suggested he might not give Iran any money.
Hillary Clinton was targeted too, “Well, it looks like Hillary will be protected by the email scandal by the democrats. So many people for doing so much less than what she did, are in prison.”
Robertson asked him about Trump’s first Executive Order if elected President. “We expect to cancel many of the executive orders because Obama has not been able to do things the way you are supposed to do them.”
Trump spoke about how divided the country is, “There is hatred in the country. It is so divided whether it’s African-American against white, democrats against republicans, we have never seen anything like it.” Of course, Trumps’ opponents blame him for creating some of the divisions in the country he is talking about.
Robertson also brought up the controversy with Pope Francis and his comments about Trump’s idea of building a wall on the Mexican Border and making the Mexican’s pay for it.
Trump said, “My people came up to me, they said, ‘Mr. Trump, the Pope just made a big statement about you.’ And I said, ‘good or bad?’ They said, ‘Not good.’ I said, ‘Oh, this is a disaster.'” The audience roared with laughter. Robertson said, “You realized he had a pretty big wall around the Vatican?” Trump responded, “Oh his wall is as tall from the floor here to up there.” Then came Trump’s point, “We got to build a wall. We’ve got to build a wall because drugs are pouring in across the border.”
He also spoke about how he gets along with democrats and republicans, “I got along with Bob. Where’s Bob? He’s a fantastic person. Bob, stand-up.” At that point former Governor Bob McDonnell who is awaiting a court date with the U.S. Supreme Court to fight his convictions on corruption charges. McDonnell stood to the loudest applause of the day.
10 On Your Side asked McDonnell about the moment, ‘Governor what did it feel like to get a shout out from Trump? “It was very nice. Very nice,” McDonnell told WAVY.
On Vice Presidential candidates? “I need someone who is political. I’m a business guy. I need a political guy to help me with government.” This raises the continuing speculation he could take Governor John Kasich from Ohio, or Sen. Marco Rubio. “We will choose someone who is political,” Trump said.
Pat Robertson asked whether Trump would instruct his Attorney General to indict Hillary Clinton over the email scandal, “The answer is, I would instruct them to take a look. It is not our call to say it, but we would have them take a look at it.” That was a very civil answer for an audience that probably thought he should do it.
In the end, it was probably his affection for his two sons who he brought on stage that moved the audience most.
Donald Trump Jr. said on stage, “There are things he doesn’t get credit for. The things you don’t see. When he is a father, or grandfather to my five children. He likes to talk about business, and he is phenomenal at that. But if you knew the real Donald you would see something real special. He is incredible.”
Trump humbly and quietly said, “The real successful people aren’t with the great wealth, but the ones with a great family, great wives, and they are the happiest…the happiest people I know are the ones with great families love their families and their families love them.”
It struck Regent student Houston Richardson, “What really struck me early on, when he involved his family, showing what kind of father he is that struck me a lot.” For Richardson it wasn’t the issues, it was Trump the man who moved him the most.
The Regent event is part of a series of forums to introduce presidential candidates through discussions and Q&A. Two more GOP candidates are scheduled to speak at Regent University in the coming days: Ted Cruz will be here Friday and Ben Carson will be on the Virginia Beach campus Monday.
WAVY viewers emailed these pictures of Trump’s plane landing at Norfolk International Airport.
— Andy Fox (@AndyFoxWAVY) February 24, 2016
“The Pope came out against me. Have you seen the Wall around the Vatican?” @WAVY_News
— Andy Fox (@AndyFoxWAVY) February 24, 2016
Pat Roberts asks Trump about taxes. Trump says he plans to cut them substantially, then talks about how China is “robbing” the U.S.
— Lex Gray (@LexGrayWAVY) February 24, 2016
The race for the Republican nomination now moves on to next week’s Super Tuesday, when a dozen states, including Virginia, will hold presidential primaries.