BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump blew into Bridgeport on Saturday, raising cheers from fans for his promises of border control, trade agreements and jobs but drawing chants of “No hate in our state” from protesters outside.
Raucous fans waving Trump signs filled the 1,400-seat Klein Memorial Auditorium for hours before the candidate arrived. They jumped to their feet and chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as Trump took the stage to the pumped-up sounds of “Get Ready for This.”
As he has many campaign speeches, Trump pledged to erect a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico, with which, he said, America has a $58 billion a year trade deficit due to poor decisions in Washington, D.C.
“We will throw that wall up so fast, your head will spin,” he said, remarking on the height of the wall he envisions. “You see the ceiling height up there? That’s a little low.”
The candidate touched on a wide range of issues just days before the Connecticut primary, including the national healthcare system he wants to repeal and replace, restoring respect for police officers, beefing up veterans services and creating jobs.
“We’re going to make great trade deals. We’re going to bring jobs back,” he told the cheering crowd.
No stranger to Bridgeport, Trump famously championed building a casino here to create jobs in a city that, he said, has lost about 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2001.
“I wanted to do a big job up here,” he said. “They’re real geniuses. They said no.”
Trump said he was shocked that General Electric will move from Fairfield to Massachusetts in the next few years.
“Connecticut lost General Electric. That, we can’t have. How do you lose that?” he said. “How the hell do you let Massachusetts get General Electric? You should be ashamed of yourselves, I'm sorry to say.”
Trump spent much of his talk criticizing his opponents, peppering his speech with references to “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz and “Crooked Hillary” Clinton. Each mention elicited boos and chants from the crowd.
Early in his appearance, security officials removed three small groups of people from the auditorium to chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” It was unclear exactly what they had done.
An announcement made before the candidate took the stage advised fans that “Donald Trump supports the First Amendment just as much as the Second Amendment” and that voters should alert security and not touch any protesters who might be in the audience.
Gwen Rozarie of Bridgeport said she attended the rally to stay informed about Trump’s positions.
“I’m just interested in what he has to say,” she said. “I try not to listen to what other people say. I want to make my own decision.”
Jay Sullivan, a plumbing and heating contractor from Milford, said he will support “basically, anybody but Hillary.”
“We need to lower taxes. The government has more than enough,” he said. “It’s fraud, waste and abuse.”
Jacqueline Joffee, a small business owner from Weston, said she has been a staunch Republican since her first vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980.
“Taxes are killing me. I believe in his message,” she said of Trump. “He is a sincere man that needs to be in the White House.”
Near the end of his speech, Trump brought up what TV talk show host Bill O’Reilly has called “the Trump phenomenon.”
“You are the phenomenon,” he told the crowd. “I’m just the messenger.”
It's a weekend filled with politics for Bridgeport. Democratic front-runner Clinton will bring her campaign to the city Sunday for a get-out-the-vote rally at the University of Bridgeport at 2:15 p.m. To sign-up for the free event, click here. Doors will open at 12:15 p.m. at the Harvey Hubbell Gymnasium.
The latest Quinnipiac Poll is showing that Trump and Clinton both have big leads in Connecticut.
A Sacred Heart University professor is predicting the two will score big victories in the Tuesday primary.
Interest is strong in the Connecticut primary, with more than 87,000 new voters signing up since Jan. 1.
Primary voting in Connecticut will run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Click here to read about the crowds at the rally on the Daily Voice.
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