Trump Makes Campaign Stop in Western North Carolina

Oct 21, 2016
Originally published on October 21, 2016 7:13 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Donald Trump is promising to accept the results of next month's election if he wins. But at the moment, his campaign is struggling in several battleground states. This afternoon, the Republican nominee began his day in one of those states - North Carolina - where he is trailing Hillary Clinton. NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: The Trump campaign has been raising questions about the validity of recent polls that show Clinton with a substantial edge. But at a campaign stop in western North Carolina today, Trump highlighted a handful of surveys that seemed to show him picking up some ground.

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DONALD TRUMP: So that's a good sign. That's a good sign because I honestly - I believe we're going to win. This is what's going to happen. This is what's going to happen.

MCCAMMON: Overall though, Trump lags behind Clinton, particularly in the battle for Electoral College votes. That's true here in North Carolina, a state Republican Mitt Romney narrowly won four years ago. But at a rally in Fletcher, a small town outside the Democratic-leaning city of Asheville, Trump said he thinks he's being underestimated.

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TRUMP: The level of excitement and the people coming out, I think we're going to have beyond Brexit. I think we'll go beyond Brexit. Do you know about Brexit?

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MCCAMMON: Trump alluded to the British vote this year to leave the European Union, which surprised many pollsters and political observers. In a roughly half-filled agricultural building, Trump seemed to acknowledge that he has a tough battle ahead of him.

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TRUMP: I am working on it. There's no doubt about it. I've got three stops today. We've got three of these today. We've got three.

MCCAMMON: Trump shocked many observers at this week's final debate by refusing to promise to concede the election if he loses. His running mate Mike Pence and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway have insisted they will accept a clear outcome while reserving the right to contest any questionable results.

In North Carolina, Trump said nothing about contesting the election, sounding almost resigned to the idea that he might not win. He promised to keep campaigning hard until Election Day.

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TRUMP: I will be happy with myself because I always say I don't want to think back, if only I did one more rally, I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes, right? If only I did - so I never want to ever look back. I never want to say that about myself.

MCCAMMON: Some Trump supporters at today's event were also concerned that their candidate may not win, and they share his skepticism of the electoral process. Dean Boyles, a home remodeler from Hendersonville, N.C., believes Trump's claim that the media are colluding with Hillary Clinton.

DEAN BOYLES: Because they're a propaganda machine. They're going to drag that old hag across the line no matter what.

MCCAMMON: Did I hear you right? Did you really say the media is going to drag that old hag across the line? Is that what you said?

BOYLES: That's what I said. She can barely stand as it is, you know?

MCCAMMON: Boyles says he agrees with Trump that the system is rigged. But if Clinton wins, he thinks most of his fellow Trump supporters will just move on.

BOYLES: We won't embrace it. We won't be like the Democrat side. Now the leftists will get violent, but we will not. We'll just kind of grin and bear it, wait on Jesus.

MCCAMMON: Boyles says he's not worried about the prospect of a violent backlash following the election, at least not from people like him. If they don't start nothin', he told me, there won't be nothin'. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Fletcher, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.