Buoyant Trump promises to make people proud again
They were not disappointed.
In an hourlong speech at Richmond International Raceway's main exhibition hall, Trump was at times combative and often discursive.
The billionaire real estate investor hammered on the issues that have propelled him to the front of a large Republican field: illegal immigration, international trade and the incompetence of elected officials.
But this wasn't a typical campaign stop. The crowd was officially estimated at 5,000 people, and the event offered a prime opportunity for Trump volunteers to gather signatures to place him on the ballot in the Old Dominion.
To secure a spot on Virginia's primary ballot, presidential candidates have until December 10 to submit a minimum of 5,000 petition signatures, with 200 from each of the state's 11 congressional districts. The signatures are checked and verified by the state parties.
A few opponents of The Art of the Deal author managed to get into the hall as well.
As Trump launched into his signature issue – building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration – a handful of protesters began chanting "Dump Trump."
There were minor scuffles between the protesters and a few attendees. Henrico County police officers eventually escorted the protesters out of the building.
"They’ll get the headline; you won’t," Trump said. "Six to seven thousand people, those 10 will get the headline. Disgusting."
Speaking without notes or a teleprompter, a point he drew attention to several times, Trump told the crowd, "The silent majority is back."
But the silent majority didn't get many specifics.
Trump reiterated that he would get Mexico to pay for the construction of the border wall, and that Mexico would be happy to do so.
He called for new spending, saying, "We have to rebuild our country, rebuild our infrastructure." Trump described the current state of roads, bridges and airports as "third world."
Like most Republican candidates, Trump said he wants to "repeal and replace Obamacare." But he offered few details on his alternative plan.
"Replace it with something that’s going to be terrific," he said. "It’s going to cost our country very little, people can have their doctor, pay very little."
Trump had harsh words for the Democratic presidential candidates, in particular Bernie Sanders. Trump described the left-leaning Vermont senator as a "maniac," and a "socialist-slash-communist."
Trump also tried to dash any speculation he might drop out of the race.
"Unless we win, I’ve wasted my time," he said. "Unless we win in the primaries, I consider it to be a massive failure."
The sometime casino mogul and original host of NBC's The Apprentice ended by renewing his vow to make America great again. "I want to make you people so proud of this country again," he said.
As Trump exited the event, Twisted Sister's Top 40 single from 1984, “We’re Not Gonna Take It," blasted from the sound system.
Trump had previously used Aerosmith's "Dream On," but lead singer Steven Tyler asked him not to play the haunting 1973 power ballad any longer, citing copyright issues.