(MTN News-HELENA) Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in his first campaign stop in Montana, told a cheering crowd in Billings that “we’re going to win” – and that the most important election issue is the future makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We have to win, because if we don’t win, No. 1, you’re not going to have your 2nd Amendment any more,” he told some 6,000 people at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings.
He said the next president could name three to five judges for the court, and that he’s submitted a list of 11 judges approved by conservative groups and who “believe in all of the things that we believe in,” such as “pro-life” and gun-ownership rights.
If Hillary Clinton is naming the next Supreme Court judges, “your country will never be the same, and our country will never recover,” Trump said, adding: “And if it does recover, it will probably be in a hundred years.”
Trump, who spoke for just under an hour, also emphasized trade issues and stopping illegal immigrants and drugs from coming into the country, talking up the proposed wall he wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re going to build a wall … It’s going to be a big wall, it’s going to be a beautiful wall,” he said.
Trump said it’s been suggested the wall carry his name, but that he didn’t want a wall named after him, and would rather have a statue of himself in Washington, D.C.
Trump made some brief Montana references – his son likes to hunt here, it’s “very much a Republican stronghold,” the state’s beautiful scenery – but spent most of his speech talking about the national campaign, and recounting his string of primary election victories in the face of media predictions that he could not win the nomination.
He repeatedly bashed media “pundits,” called conservative commentator William Kristol a “total moron,” said “I can’t stand the most of the papers,” and when several crowd members raised a U.S. flag, said “I’m not sure the people behind you (the media covering the event) like it, but we like it.”
Trump said he’d won more votes than anyone in history in Republican primaries and that he’d built a political movement, which Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly had called “the single, greatest political phenomenon that he has ever seen in his lifetime.”
Trump spoke without a teleprompter, holding up a tiny yellow piece of paper that he said were his notes, as he riffed on “crooked Hillary Clinton,” bad trade deals that had devastated manufacturing in America, and President Barack Obama, whom he said was a worse president than even Jimmy Carter.
He also pointed out Montana’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, as someone who was “with me right from the beginning,” although he said Zinke’s wife was the stronger supporter initially.
Zinke said this week that he supports Trump; a couple of weeks ago, he told MTN News he would support the “Republican nominee.”
Trump said his candidacy would put into play many states that Republicans have had trouble winning in past presidential elections, such Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and perhaps even New York.
He saved some of his strongest comments for trade issues, saying he would impose a stiff tax on U.S. companies that move factories out of the country and block the flow of heroin or other illegal drugs that are devastating American communities.
“If you elect me, we’re going to win so much,” he said. “You are going to get so sick and tired of winning … and I’m going to say, I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning, and we’re going to make American great again.”
Reporter: Mike Dennison