Hundreds gather at state fairgrounds in Harrington to hear the GOP front runner speak.
Hundreds of supporters greeted Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump Friday afternoon at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington as he made his only campaign swing through the First State.
Trump's plane landed at an airport in Georgetown and he arrived at the fairgrounds by helicopter.
Stepping through a set of curtains in the Quillen Arena in a dark gray suit sans tie, with his trademark red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap partially shielding his face, Trump acknowledged the roars of the crowd, many of who had been standing on the dirt-floored arena for hours.
Members of the crowd, who had come from as far away as Pennsylvania and southern Delmarva, did not seem to mind that the billionaire businessman started his speech 30 minutes late.
In many aspects it was Trump’s standard address, although he did bring up his business ties to the First State as well as noting the contributions of the airmen at Dover Air Force Base.
“This is great, we love to be here. Do we love Delaware, do we love it?” he said to cheers that nearly drowned him out.
Trump noted he’d had his people check and held up a memo he said showed 378 entities registered in the First State. But they’d had little time to check, so he wasn’t sure of the number.
“Being as I pay you a lot of money folks, I don’t feel at all guilty, OK?”
“But you know what is, it’s a lot,” he said, ripping the memo in half.
But there’s also bad news, Trump said, and began reading through a litany of negatives about the state, including declines in household income, an increase in the number of food stamp recipients in the southern part of the state and having lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs to China.
Trump brought up rival Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he called “Lying Ted” Cruz, criticizing his votes on pro-China monetary policies the billionaire said
“It’s almost impossible to vote against it if you love our country,” he said of the Texas senator’s decision.
Later in his speech, however, Trump admitted that he has done business with the Chinese, including with a wealthy banker who purchased a condo in one of Trump's towers.
Trump called the US-Mexico border a piece of "Swiss cheese," and promised to build a wall along the Mexican border and strengthen immigration laws to keep out "anti-Americans." He also said that he wanted to rebuild the nation’s military.
The GOP front runner also referenced strong opposition from some Delawareans to accept Syrian refugees in the state.
There were no organized protests outside the arena or adjacent to the fairgrounds, although several people were removed from the rally for carrying anti-Trump signs. One referred to Trump as a bigot while another, held aloft by a woman with carnations in her hair, said, “Make America Hate Again.”
One man in a green tank top strolled through the crowd relatively unmolested wearing a rubber Trump mask.
None of that seemed to bother the crowd and they were barely acknowledged by the speaker of the day.
The positive vibes Trump received were evident long before the crowds formed.
Donna Zelano and daughter Natalie of Houston were the first in line. By 9:20 a.m. they’d been sitting outside the security checkpoint for more than six hours.
“We’re here because we want to see Donald Trump and we want to see him win,” she said.
“He’s the best man for the job. We’ve got to run this country like a business, that’s what it is.”
Hockessin’s Deanne Foth likes Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, jobs and overseas trade.
“Just about everything he says I agree with,” she said.
Illegal immigration was also an issue that concerned Michael Cole who had traveled to Harrington from Middletown.
“[Trump] and I have the same thoughts as far as illegal people coming in. I support the way he wants to do it. He is not against immigrants, just people doing it illegally,” Cole said.
Also from Middletown was Andrea Spencer who hasn’t made up her mind about who she is going to vote for, but is leaning strongly for Trump.
“I’m just still wanting to see and learn what everyone has to say. I know a lot of people are being deterred because of [Trump’s] attitude and I just don’t think that being the business man that he is that that’s how he is going to be if he gets to be president,” Spencer said.
But there were staunch Trump supporters in the crowd like Dolores Evans who will stand by the businessman no matter what.
“He’s outspoken and I don’t care what he says,” Evans said. “I like him!”
Trump’s speech played well to the crowd, many of who sported pro-Trump buttons or stickers handed out by aides and volunteers or newly-purchased “Make America Great” caps.
The caps were just some of the merchandise for sale outside the gates, including anti-Hillary Clinton buttons, music CDs and T-shirts. Some of the shirts included vulgarities that ostensibly supported Trump’s candidacy.
Up until Friday, Trump was the only presidential contender to visit Delaware this election season, although campaign organizers for Democrat Bernie Sanders announced earlier in the day the Vermont senator would visit Wilmington on April 23.
Hillary Clinton is to make a speech there on Monday, the day before the Democratic primary.
The Republican primary also is scheduled for April 26.
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