More than 13,000 people filled the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Saturday evening to hear from businessman and presidential hopeful Donald Trump. MPB’s Evelina Burnett was there and has our report.
"Please welcome the next president of the United States, Mr. Donald J. Trump..."
And with those words as introduction - along with the Twisted Sister song, "We're not going to take it" - Donald Trump took the stage in front of a packed, cheering, sign-waving crowd.
“Amazing, I want to thank you this is incredible," he said. "I knew it was going to be good, but who knew.”
Trump then spoke for about an hour on an array of topics, from the economy to foreign policy to the polls that continue to show him with a sizeable lead for the Republican presidential nomination.
"We're going to get rid of Obamacare. We're going to get something so good and so great," he said. "We're going to straighten out our borders, we're going to straighten out our military, we're going to take care of our vets. We are going to make our country better than ever before. We're bringing back our jobs. We're going to make something really special."
One common thread: Trump's experience in the "art of the deal," and the lack of such finesse in other leaders.
"We give money to so many people, and nobody respects us, nobody listens to us, nobody wants to do anything, because we have leadership that doesn't know how to play the trump card," he said. "It's really true, they don't know how to play the card."
Supporters in the enthusiastic crowd, like Wendy Picou of Houma, Louisiana, said they like Trump’s views on the issues, but also they appreciate his plain speaking.
“We just love Trump, and we love what he has to say," she said. "We love the fact that he doesn’t he mince words, he says what he means, and he’s a do-er. He’s a do-er.”
Across the street from the Trump rally, about two dozen protesters, including Melinda Medina of Gulfport, gathered to express their opposition to the often divisive candidate.
"Trump has said very demeaning things about the Latino community, especially Mexicans, and we're just here to show him that we're not all criminals, we're not all rapists, we're not anything that he says. We're actually part of the voting population, and he's not getting our vote," she said.
The Mississippi presidential primary is on March 8.