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Supporters look to Trump for America-first, peace-through-strength policies

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(The Center Square) — America’s position among world leaders and national security were among some of the more frequently mentioned voter concerns at a Friday rally for former President Donald Trump in Chesapeake, Virginia.

“We’ve got to be number one in the world in every aspect,” said Ann Putnam, an attendee from Portsmouth.

At her first Trump rally, Putnam called it “the dream of my life” to attend.

Putnam was one of thousands who gathered enthusiastically Friday at Chesapeake’s Historic Greenbrier Farms for Trump’s first stump speech after Thursday’s debates in Atlanta. Though Virginia isn’t considered a swing state for the 2024 election, a reputable Roanoke College poll in May showed Biden and Trump neck-and-neck, with 42% of voters saying they would vote for Biden and 42% saying they would vote for Trump.

When asked why they supported Trump, several attendees hearkened back to Ronald Reagan’s phrase to describe his position on American foreign policy, believing it would also characterize Trump’s: peace through strength.

Former Navy SEAL Asa Miller of Virginia Beach was as confident in Trump’s foreign policy as he was unhappy with Biden’s.

“Trump will stand for what America stands for unapologetically, and if we’re threatened, he’s going to do something about it,” Miller said. “Peace through strength. He’ll never apologize to another nation.”

Conversely, Miller believes Biden presents a weak image to American adversaries.

“I think Biden is the opposite. He gets walked over. He gives away all of our cash when we’re $30 trillion in debt, and so I just prefer peace through strength,” Miller told The Center Square.

Miller had never attended a Trump rally before Friday but had attended a rally for Mike Pence in 2016.

Another attendee, Robin Morris from Chesapeake, who attended with her husband, echoed Miller’s thoughts on foreign policy.

“I think that people are a little more afraid of him in foreign countries, and I think we need a little bit of fear,” Morris told The Center Square.

At various points in his 90-minute speech, Trump addressed some of his listeners’ concerns, alluding to the weapons inventories of some of America’s enemies and challenging Biden’s contention that climate change is humanity’s greatest existential threat.

“We have six countries out there with massive nuclear capability, and [Biden] doesn’t mention it,” Trump said. “That’s your threat, and we don’t even talk about it. Can you imagine this guy saying global warming’s the greatest threat to our country?”

He also issued a warning to foreign adversaries considering acting against the U.S., referring to the months leading up to the election as a “transition period.”

“We have a five-month transition period, and I want the enemies to know, don’t play around with us during this five-month period,” Trump said, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

Despite the humidity, spirits remained high for the former president and Virginia throughout the afternoon. Trump periodically affirmed Republican state leadership, including the governor and congressional candidates Hung Cao, who’s running for Senate against Tim Kaine, Derrick Anderson and state Sen. John McGuire.

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