WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Former President Donald Trump was back in North Carolina on Friday night for the first time since Congressman Ted Budd won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
Budd and his Democratic opponent, Cheri Beasley are in a neck-and-neck race according to the latest information from the political website FiveThirtyEight. Budd holds a slim lead.
Budd was counting on Friday's visit from Trump to help solidify the Republican base in time for November. Trump's endorsements have virtually guaranteed wins for Republican candidates in numerous races across the country.
Throwing out red hats to the crowd before he took the podium, the former president came on stage at the Aero Center right next to Wilmington International Airport.
"We have a one-hour speech, we have a two-hour speech, we have a three-hour speech. What do you want me to do?" Trump told the crowd.
The 45th president ended up speaking for about 90 minutes before an enthusiastic crowd of thousands.
Trump made the visit to endorse several Republican candidates, including Budd. He didn't mention the Senate race until about 45 minutes into his speech.
"Ted will vote to stop the Democrats' inflation-causing spending binge, and he will unlock American energy and bring prices way down," Trump said. "Ted has been rock-solid on defending our borders .. and he fights relentlessly to get dangerous criminal aliens off the streets."
Trump also noted that as a gun-store owner, Budd will always fight to "defend your Second Amendment."
The former president spent much of the first half of his speech hammering on familiar talking points-dangers of the Southern border, where record numbers of undocumented immigrants are coming into the country, the 2020 election and the nation's rising inflation and high consumer prices.
Eventually, Trump brought Budd on the stage to say a few words.
"Mr. President, I also can say we're ready to stop the Biden, Beasley agenda and make America great again," Budd told the crowd.
In response to the rally, a spokesperson for the Beasley camp said, "Does Congressman Budd still believe that the violent rioters who injured more than 130 police officers after Trump incited them to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were just patriots standing up?"
Still, the night belonged to Trump, the candidates he endorsed, and most of all, the crowd.
"it was a good tailgate party, everybody was good," said Susan Blasc, of Asheboro. "It's about unity. Unifying the country."
Despite new legal troubles for Trump; he had a civil suit filed against him by New York's attorney general this week, that mattered little on Friday night.
"This man is going to make this country great again; everybody he endorses is just for America, that's what we need, to come together as a country," said Dawn Marshburn, of Wilmington. "He came out here a little late but it was worth the wait."
ABC11's Josh Chapin contributed from Wilmington