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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Trump Gets Warm Ohio Reception After Illinois

CLEVELAND (CN) - Not worried after concerns of violence stymied a Donald Trump rally in Chicago the night before, thousands of voters turned out in Ohio on Saturday to hear the Republican front-runner chant about building a wall on the Mexican border and repealing Obamacare.

True to form, Trump made the grandiose promises in the same breath about the "great deals" he has planned for the United States.

"We're going to stop being the stupid country, because that's what people think of us," Trump told the crowd at the IX Center, short for International Exposition.

Panning President Barack Obama's health care law as "a disaster," Trump had the crowd shouting in unison as he promised to strengthen the southern border.

"We are going to have a wall, we're going to have a wall," Trump intoned. "A real wall, folks, a real wall. And who's going to pay for the wall?"




"You better believe it," Trump said. "They're paying!"

Condemning the cancellation of his Friday event at the University of Illinois, Trump showcased the oratory acrobatics he's been fine-tuning for months, such as when he demanded an apology from the disabled reporter whom he mocked with a crude impersonation.

Though Trump has been widely criticized for inciting his supporters to violence at past rallies and for obstructing the press, the real estate mogul said protesters set on violating his First Amendment rights are to blame for the frenzy on Friday.

"Troublemakers" and "Bernie people," as he called them, tried to interrupt Saturday's rally as well. Each outburst prompted Trump to chant "get 'em out of here" while security forcibly removed the critics.

Seizing on a protester at one point in the rally, several Trump supporters grabbed a "Trump Makes America Racist Again" sign out of the hands of a middle-aged, white man.

As news cameras tried to film the pushing and shoving that ensued, Trump supporters nearby jockeyed with their "Trump: Make America Great Again" signs to block the scene.

One voter at the rally complained about detractors interfering with Trump's events ahead of the primaries Tuesday in Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina and Missouri.

"If they come to a rally that is for a specific candidate, you should be for that candidate," said Christine Stoll, a nurse practitioner from Westlake, Ohio.

Offering debates as a better venue for protesters to voice concerns, Stoll said rally audiences deserve something akin to the ban on electioneering at poll sites.

"It's so that people can have and enjoy and respect their own conscience when they're voting," Stoll said. "So if I'm going to a rally for Trump, I don't want to hear anybody else. If I go for a debate between people, I want to hear both sides."

Polls indicate that GOP race in Ohio will be a tight one between the brash billionaire and the Buckeye State's governor, but Trump voiced little concern.

Listing states where Gov. John Kasich campaigned heavily, Trump boasted that he won New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan "in a landslide."


"And now he says he's going to win Ohio," Trump said of Kasich. "I don't think so. I really don't think so."

Black voters were scarce but still represented at the rally, demonstrating the diversity of a campaign that also attracted support from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Jason Frierson, a black voter from Elyria who attended the rally with his wife, said he likes Trump's message of bringing people together.

"And maybe through his presidency he can maybe change the hearts of some of these people that are for white supremacy and white power and say 'Hey, we need to bring this country together and work together,'" Frierson said. "And if his presidency can bring all these people of different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs together, my view is there's nothing that God can't do."

Frierson called it a myth that the Republican Party takes care only of the wealthy.

"It's about the principles," he said. "It's not about color. It's not about rich. It's not about poor. It's about the principle and who's going to stick to the word of God is what draws me."

A small group of black voters protesting peacefully outside the IX Center's main entrance got a taste of Trump's inclusive message after the rally.

As words like "coon" and nigger" rang in the air from supporters brandishing Trump buttons, shirts and hats, a white couple walking past reacted differently, hugging one of the protesters after talking with him calmly while holding his hands.

Giving an interview after the encounter, Trump supporter Bernie Bennett called himself "first and foremost" a Christian.

"There's anger, and there's frustration, and there's hatred in the air, but not everyone that supports Trump is bigoted and wants racial division," said Bennett, of Columbiana County.

Speculating that bigotry exists in every party and every campaign, sometimes in passive-aggressive forms, Bennett fauled Sen. Bernie Sanders in particular for trying to "to divide the poor from the rich, the young from the old."

Bennett predicted that the divisiveness will fade as the election year continues. "There's still a large amount of us out here that think that unity is still possible in this country, and a lot of this goes away as soon as the primary season ends anyway," he said.

Miles Wilson, the young protester with whom Bennett and his wife had stopped to talk, said police had given his group the boot from the rally when Trump supporters got "rowdy" over their hand-written sign, "Donald Trump 'Make AmeriKKKa White Again."

A resident of South Euclid, Ohio, Wilson said the Bennetts had been asking him about his "Black Lives Matter" button.

"They were like, 'that's kind of a racist statement,'" Wilson said. "I was trying to explain to them that all lives matter. White people matter. Asian people. Black people. Latino. Everybody matters. But the Black Lives movement is a reminder because sometimes people forget. Cops are out in the street just killing young, black men. In the flocks and the droves. And you see it all the time."

Attesting to the less-friendly reaction he received from other Trump supporters, Wilson repeated some of the comments he'd heard.

"Well 'nigger,' for one. 'Protect your check.' 'Get off your ass.' 'Get off your lazy ass.' 'Get a job.'"

"I'm sure there was more," Wilson said, "but I'm not going to just, like, throw things out there that I'm not sure I heard."

Apparently needing to take a page from Wilson's book, Trump mistakenly bashed automaker Ford Motor Co. at the rally for supposedly moving work out of the area.

While Eaton Corp. recently announced plans to permanently close its manufacturing plant in Berea, Ohio - moving production to a plant in Mexico - Ford actually moved production of its F-650 and F-750 trucks from Mexico to an existing plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, in August 2015.

If Trump sees victory in Ohio, which is a winner-take-all state for Republican delegates, his lead over the other candidates will easily become insurmountable.

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