May 25, 2016

Protesters interrupt Trump as he rallies faithful

Andy Lyman

On a night where protests outside of a Donald Trump rally drew national attention, plenty also disrupted the Republican presidential candidate’s speech inside the Albuquerque Convention Center.


Andy Lyman

Donald Trump at Albuquerque Convention Center.

It’s not as if the Trump campaign wasn’t expecting it.

Before the likely GOP presidential nominee walked onto the stage, a voice on loudspeaker told the crowd how to treat potential protesters.

“If a protester starts demonstrating, please do not touch or harm the protester,” the announcer said, prompting some scattered boos from the crowd. Trump previously said he’d like to punch one of the protestors at a rally in the face.

Related: Protests turn chaotic outside Trump rally

When Trump entered the rally, his campaign blared “Get Ready for This,” the upbeat 1990s dance song commonly played at sporting events.

“We’re going to win this thing,”  Trump began, to cheers. “They love me, they love me. We’re winning, we’re winning. ”

But early into the speech, Javier Benavidez, the executive director of the Southwest Organizing Project, sat in the stands behind Trump and repeatedly shouted, “Stop the hate!” As security escorted Benavidez down, Trump waved goodbye to him.

“The safest place to be anywhere in the country is a Trump rally,” Trump said, to more cheers.

He then started talking about recent disruptions at the Democratic Party Convention in Nevada, where supporters of Bernie Sanders clashed with supporters of Hillary Clinton over delegates.

“This is happening to the Democrats now!” Trump said.

As Trump began to claim that 40 percent of Sanders supporters would vote for him against Clinton, protesters in the bleachers once again interrupted Trump, this time in the bleachers to his left.

“Well, maybe not those Sanders supporters,” Trump said while watching the police escort them down from the bleachers and outside the hall.

Some of their signs this time read, “undocumented and here to stay.” One of Trump’s campaign platforms involves forcibly deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Trump resumed and started talking about Clinton, only to be heckled once again by another crowd in the same bleachers to his left. This time the protesters draped signs that read “Trump’s a fascist,” and “we’ve heard enough.”

“Go home to mommy,” Trump told the protesters as security escorted them outside the building.

Trump did get to talk uninterrupted, spending a good amount of time telling a story about how he hosted a fundraiser that raised more than $5 million for veterans but got bad media coverage for it. But media coverage has found his claims on the amount of money raised inaccurate.

“They started writing stories like, ‘Why didn’t this money do here, why didn’t it go there?’” Trump said. “I am the only one who can raise over $5 million for the vets and yet get bad publicity.”

Soon, a woman sitting in the bleachers behind Trump erupted into a protest. This time, security literally dragged her down the stairs as the crowd cheered.

“They used to call it the silent majority,” Trump said of his crowd. “Now they call it the noisy majority!”

Trump went into his usual talking points, attacking Clinton for her husband’s signing of the North American Free Trade Act in the 1990s when he was president.Trump critized the deal, saying it resulted in companies moving overseas to do business.

As for his trademark proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico border and making Mexico pay for it, Trump said he locals before the rally if he should bring up the talking point in New Mexico, a state with the highest proportion of Latinos in the country.

“The told me, ‘Absolutely, bring up the wall,’” Trump said to cheers.

Another protester, apparently young-looking, soon erupted.

“How old is he?” Trump asked the crowd. “He looks like he’s in his diapers.”

As Trump’s stream of consciousness talking style went on—at one point he brought up the issue of “cell phones with Syrian flags”—he eventually defended his speaking style itself.

“You ever seen some of these teleprompter people?” he said, mocking the device that many politicians use when giving public speeches. “When the teleprompter doesn’t work, they don’t know what to do! They walk off the stage. It’s ridiculous.”

Trump also took shots at Gov. Susana Martinez, who has refused to endorse him and has criticized his rhetoric. Martinez is also chair of the Republican Governors Association, which promotes Republican candidates for governor across the country.

Trump cited the number of unemployed people in Albuquerque nearly doubling since 2000 and the state’s rising number of food stamp beneficiaries.

“We have to get your governor to get going,” Trump said. “She’s got to do a better job, OK?”

Martinez did not attend the Trump rally, telling media outlets that she was too busy. But state Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis and former state Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh were seen there.

Former State Rep. David Chavez spoke before Trump, and joked about the deaths of Clinton and Sanders.

“If Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are on a boat together — if they’re on a boat together and it sinks. Who survives? America!”

Chavez also evoked Martinez’ long battle to end driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally.

“Have you ever tried to get a driver’s license in another country without being a citizen?” Chavez said. “If you’re offended by immigration comments from Donald Trump, it’s time to get over it and get on the Trump train.”

Other Trump talking points included closing U.S. military bases in Germany and Japan (“We’re defending the world, folks,” Trump said), “knocking the hell out of ISIS,” repealing and replacing Obamacare, and fixing the Transportation Security Administration, which he called “a disaster.”

“Our airports are a disaster,” Trump said. “Everything we’ve done in this country is a disaster.”

Protests also periodically erupted in the crowd in front of Trump, including from a group of teenagers that jumped around and made noise.

“Yeah, get them out of here,” Trump signaled to security.