Trump in Grand Rapids: We’re going to win Michigan

Posted at 10:54 AM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 18:49:25-04

WALKER, Mich. — Just eight days out from the election, Donald Trump rallied supporters during a last minute campaign event in West Michigan as the GOP nominee jockeys to do something no Republican presidential candidate has done since 1988: win Michigan.

Trump, speaking to a crowd of several thousand at the DeltaPlex just outside of Grand Rapids, promised "the long nightmare of jobs leaving Michigan" would come to end under his watch.

"You know it better than anyone else in this country, the political class in Washington has betrayed you," Trump told the crowd.

"In eight days, we're going to win Michigan and win back the White House. 100 percent."

National polls show a tightening race with more than 23 million ballots already cast across the country. Current polling averages show Clinton holding a 6 point lead over Trump in Michigan, according to Real Clear Politics.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Deltaplex Arena October 31, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With just eight days until the election, polls show a slight tightening in the race. (Getty Images)

The Republican presidential nominee, in his second visit to the DeltaPlex following a December rally during the primaries, came out to rousing applause as he was introduced by legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight.

“Under a Donald Trump administration, there will be no bulls**t,” Knight later said as he interrupted Trump’s speech, after calling the GOP nominee a "tough son of a b***h" during his opening remarks.

Trump's nearly hour-long scripted address did not stray far from the issues that have propelled him to popularity among his most ardent supporters. The GOP nominee touted his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, repeal Obamacare, revitalize inner cities, reduce crime and create jobs.

"I will fight for every last Michigan job," he said. "We’re going to make Michigan the economic envy of the entire world once again.”

Trump, who has made a habit of singling out Ford Motor Company's decision to move small-car production to Mexico, doubled down on his stance while renewing his call for a 35 percent tariff on products from companies that relocate production south of the border.

"If you think you're going to ship your stuff across the border for nothing and you end up with the money, the jobs, the plants, you can forget it," he said.

The narrative from Trump runs in stark contract to the "comeback state" messaging Gov. Rick Snyder and other local Republicans have championed when talking about job and economic growth in the state since the 2008 downturn.

Seizing on Friday’s revelation the FBI is reviewing new emails that could potentially be connected to the bureau's investigation of Clinton's private email server she used as secretary of state, Trump said the messages will be "absolutely devastating" to his Democratic opponent — thought the contents are still unknown.

"This is the biggest scandal since Watergate and Hillary wants to blame everyone else but she has brought all of this on herself," Trump said.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - OCTOBER 31: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump takes the stage during a campaign rally at the Deltaplex Arena October 31, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With just eight days until the election, polls show a slight tightening in the race. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"Hillary is not the victim. The American people are the victims of this corrupt system in every way."

The FBI discovered the emails on a device seized from Clinton top aide Huma Abedin's estranged husband Anthony Weiner, who is being investigated for allegedly exchanging sexually explicit messages with an underage girl. The FBI is still working to determine if any of them are pertinent to the investigation into Clinton's private email server.

Trump also praised FBI Director James Comey for publicly disclosing last Friday that the FBI was reviewing newly discovered emails for links to the Clinton server investigation, a decision some Democrats have slammed as a political decision that could influence the results of the election.

"I have to give the FBI credit, that was so bad what happened and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move he made. It took a lot of guts," Trump said. "I was not his fan, but I'll tell you what, what he did, he brought back his reputation."

"He's gotta hang tough," Trump said of the FBI director, whom he had repeatedly and relentlessly assailed since Comey recommended during the summer that no criminal charges be filed against Clinton.

The Clinton campaign has remained adamant the revelations are overblown while condemning Comey for reigniting the issue just days before the election.

Several Michigan political heavyweights rallied supporters ahead of Trump's appearance including Michigan GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. She was later told by West Michigan businessman and Republican power player Peter Secchia to drop “Romney” from her name because her uncle Mitt refuses to support Trump.

Secchia told the crowd anyone who doesn't support Trump at this point is a "loser" who should simply “shut up.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Michigan, whose support for the GOP nominee has been quiet and lukewarm at best, made his first appearance for Trump during Monday's rally urging supporters to vote.

This late in the game, Huizenga told FOX 17 it's not about changing people's minds but leveraging motivation, especially among Republicans who are arguably fired up in wake of the latest FBI revelations potentially involving Clinton's emails, he said.

“It’s getting people motivated," he said. "What I’m hearing on the campaign trail is ‘look, I don’t know what to do, I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything,' but I think this latest discussion with the FBI and emails is moving people from the sidelines.”

Michigan-based Republican operative Saul Anuzis described Michigan as "a creative opportunity" for Trump.

"The demographics in Michigan are perfect for Trump," Anuzis said of the state's large white working-class population. "That doesn't mean he'll necessarily win here."

Trump's campaign hopes that frustrated working-class voters across the Midwest will tip states like Michigan or Wisconsin his way, especially if he benefits from reduced enthusiasm for Clinton in African-American strongholds like Detroit and Milwaukee.

Michigan Democrats remain unconvinced the state will swing out of their favor.

“Donald Trump has done nothing in this campaign but play to people’s fears and has built his entire campaign on hateful, divisive rhetoric that pits Michiganders against each other,” said Brandon Dillon, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

“Compare all this to Hillary Clinton, who believes that our diversity as a country is a strength... she has spent her entire career fighting for children and families.

"Simply put, Hillary Clinton is the best — and only — choice for Michiganders this election.”

Watch Trump's entire speech in the archived Facebook Live video below:

Trump, in his sixth visit to the state since winning the nomination, also held a campaign rally in Warren, a suburb of Detroit.

CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.