Trump: US will be ‘greater than ever before’

— Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump energized a raucous crowd in Raleigh on Friday night with promises of military might, mass deportations and an end to the Affordable Care Act and the Common Core academic standards.

Thousands of people packed Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds to hear from Trump, who continues to lead the GOP field by taking on critics head-on and preaching a message of reclaiming what he says is the eroding status of the United States.

“We are going to make our country great again, greater than ever before,” he said

The appearance was disrupted about a half-dozen times by protesters, who were loudly booed down by Trump supporters and escorted out of the arena. Meanwhile, a couple dozen protesters marched outside the arena.

Trump dismissed the protests, saying the handful of people were a minor annoyance compared with the flood of people who back his message.

“We have a movement going on,” he said. “We’re taking our country back. We’re going to be a smart country, not a stupid country led by stupid people.”

Speaking in almost a stream of consciousness for about 30 minutes, Trump blasted President Barack Obama, calling him “grossly incompetent” and a “great divider,” Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whom he said he would consider prosecuting for her actions as secretary of state, and GOP rival, Jeb Bush, whom he first referred to as “boring” before changing the description to “low energy.”

His bombast was met with delighted cheers from the crowd.

Trump also hit on his common points attacking illegal immigration, ending the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. and supporting the military and veterans.

“We’re going to build a military that is so big, so strong, so powerful that no one is going to mess with us,” he said.

He said he would go after ISIS, renegotiate trade deals with countries he accused of “ripping us off” and protect the Second Amendment, suggesting that armed citizens might have been able to limit the carnage in Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

“We’re going to protect ourselves if we have to,” he said.

Trump spent the second half hour of his appearance taking questions from audience members, getting the loudest applause line when he cut off the first questioner.

“What would you tell President Obama…?” a woman started to ask.

“You’re fired!” he interrupted her.

He promised a student from Campbell University that he would build the economy so graduates would have jobs waiting for them, told another questioner that he would repeal Obama’s executive orders on immigration and work to help veterans on his first day in office and told a 12-year-old girl from Virginia that she would be safe growing up under his leadership.

“If I win, we are going to be so proud of our country again,” he said.

,Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump energized a raucous crowd in Raleigh on Friday night with promises of military might, mass deportations and an end to the Affordable Care Act and the Common Core academic standards.

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