Trump Rally: The Highlights
Illinois isn't typically a state presidential candidates spend time campaigning in early in the campaign season. But a year out from the general election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump got an enthusiastic reception Monday at a rally in Springfield.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the holder of the largest event ever at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, and the next President of the United States ... Donald Trump!" an announcer yelled, as Trump -- in a bright red tie and neatly pressed suit came on stage.
Twisted Sister's rock anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It" played. Trump began his seemingly off-the-cuff speech before a convention record of more than 10,000 people boasting about his highly-rated turn hosting Saturday Night Live, and getting in some digs at his competition. But he soon transitioned into more political, and international affairs.
For more than an hour, he talked about topics like bulking up American's military, and putting up a wall on the border with Mexico.
He said Sgt. Beau Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009, is a traitor who the U.S. should have executed.
Trump also decried President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, and Obama's willingness to take in Syrian refugees -- comparing them to a "Trojan Horse" for ISIS.
Trump criticized Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, and says he wants to repeal Obama's signature health care law. "We have incompetent people leading us. And we can't keep doing it. We can't keep doing it," he said.
Gary McCandless, a retired state employee who lives in Springfield, says he's a loyal Republican, though he didn't go into the evening committed to voting for Trump.
McCandless, who was there with his wife and grandson, says it was an opportunity to see an "interesting character."
"You know Illinois is such a heavily Democratic state, to have any Republican candidate here is a big thing for the capital city, you know. because it's Obama's world. But you know, in Illinois here, when there's a candidate here, it's a big thing," he said.
McCandless says he's most concerned about the economy, gun rights and making sure entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security are modified to ensure they'll be around in the future. Trump did not take questions from local media.
He wasn't the only Republican on the presidential campaign trail to stop in Illinois before a GOP debate Tuesday in Milwaukee. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich had a smaller rally at a Chicago restaurant, the Billy Goat Tavern.