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Trump returns to Hershey for Thank You Tour

David Weissman
505-5431/@DispatchDavid

HERSHEY — Central Pennsylvania helped Donald Trump turn the state red for the first time since 1988, and the president-elect stopped in Hershey on Thursday night to thank those supporters.

Michael David, of East Greenwich, New Jersey, and his son Harrison, 10, hold signs as they await the start of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence's Thank You Tour Rally Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Amanda J. Cain photo

Despite below-freezing temperatures, supporters filled most of the Giant Center  to hear Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence speak on their Thank You Tour 2016.

Sam Evans, of Altoona, drove more than three hours to see Trump for the fourth time since the prominent New York businessman announced his candidacy.

President-elect Donald J. Trump makes an appearance on his Thank You Tour Rally Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Amanda J. Cain photo

Evans, a manufacturing sales representative, said he supported Trump from the beginning because of his candor.

"He talks to you like a person, knows what he can and can't do," he said. "He has no agenda except to make things better."

Evans said he was nervous on Election Day, but he was proud that Pennsylvania helped put Trump "over the top."

Trump recounted watching the news on Election Day, as he anxiously waited for Pennsylvania to be called in his favor.

Instead, he recalled, enough other states were called that he ended up not even needing the 20 electoral votes Pennsylvania holds.

"I love Pennsylvania, but we didn't even need you guys," he said. "Isn't that terrible?"

Tyler Cahill, 14, of Baltimore, reads "The Outsiders" as he awaits the start of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence's Thank You Tour Rally  Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Amanda J. Cain photo

Trump is the first Republican to carry the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988, and central Pennsylvania was a primary reason for that accomplishment.

He carried wide margins of victory over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in York, Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon and Cumberland counties.

During the campaign, Trump's team made frequent stops in the region, including a rally Pence headlined at Penn Waste in Manchester Township.

President-elect Donald J. Trump makes an appearance on his Thank You Tour Rally Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Amanda J. Cain photo

Trump alluded to a future re-election effort, telling the crowd that he would win Pennsylvania by more votes in four years.

Trump touched on numerous subjects during his hourlong speech, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, strengthening the military and lowering business taxes.

He said he would make sure America makes better trade deals, bring back jobs and invest in infrastructure.

The president-elect also talked about the "punks" he sees on television burning and stomping on the American flag.

President-elect Donald J. Trump makes an appearance on his Thank You Tour Rally Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Amanda J. Cain photo

"We're gonna maybe have to do something about that," he said, adding that he would call for patriotism to be taught to children in school.

In late November, Trump suggested in a tweet that flag burning should be a crime, though the Supreme Court has ruled the action is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Since winning the election, Trump has had to deal with criticism about many of his choices for positions in his Cabinet, recount efforts by the Green Party and, most recently, a CIA report alleging that Russia hacked Democratic servers in an effort to help his election.


The weather likely deterred some would-be protesters, though a few did brave the cold, including one holding a "Not Putin up with Trump" sign, referencing Russian President Vladamir Putin.

Evans said he believes Trump has done an "exemplary" job since winning the election, and there is a sense of promise regarding the economy from others in the manufacturing business.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.