One by one, Donald Trump fended off hecklers as his presidential tour swung into a packed Tsongas Center in Lowell last night, where the GOP front-runner unloaded on Hillary Clinton and rally-crashers.
“Get ’em out,” the front-running Republican said at several points when protesters attempted to shout him down as more than 8,000 backers cheered and chanted, “USA! USA!”
“I remember with Bernie Sanders when they took over his microphone,” Trump said, referring to an August event in Seattle where the Democratic candidate was forced from the stage by members of Black Lives Matter. “That’s not happening with Trump, folks. Wasn’t that a pathetic scene? I don’t want to have to help Hillary (Clinton), though in a certain way I’d rather run against Hillary.”
Trump’s near hourlong rally featured the blustery bravado that has come to define his events, with the billionaire running through his promises of building a wall on the southern border to trashing the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
But protesters have become as common as sound bites. At one point before Trump took the stage, a speaker came over the microphone imploring attendees to hold up their Trump signs and alert security to any potential hecklers.
“They remind me a little bit of Hillary,” Trump said after one group of protesters was led out by police. “No energy, no stamina, no strength.”
“Over the last eight years, we should have been doing the same thing,” Trump said of another.
Outside, protesters and Trump supporters stood on opposite sides of Martin Luther King Jr. Way before the event, jeering each other. The throng of around 75 protesters held signs such as “Dump Trump” and chanted toward a winding line of Trump supporters.
“How do you spell racist?” one protester yelled, to which the other protesters responded: “T-R-U-M-P!”
“Everything Donald Trump stands for is everything I’m against,” said Mary Hart of Lowell. “I find him to be a megalomaniac. I find that his grasp of politics and diplomacy is ridiculous. He is truly frightening.”
The protesters were cordoned off in a “Free Speech Area” by yellow caution tape. Occasionally a Trump supporter would walk by and make gestures, but it was otherwise peaceful.
“We need to reject everything Donald Trump stands for. He’s a racist,” said Ron Newman, 58, of Somerville. “He’s stirring up hatred against immigrants and Muslims. He’s dishonoring the name of Paul Tsongas by being in this arena.”
On the other side of the road, Trump supporters yelled at protesters to “get a job” and “get out of your mother’s basement.” They flung insults that were drowned out by traffic and the protesters’ chants.
“That’s minuscule, it’s nothing,” Chris Luongo of Saugus said while looking at the protesters. “They don’t even look old enough to vote. They don’t know what they’re saying. Give me a valid argument that shows that what Donald Trump says is wrong.”
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