Berlin, Maryland – Thousands of Trump supporters gathered inside the gymnasium at Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, Maryland on Wednesday night to hear the GOP presidential front-runner speak.
Hundreds more waited outside and were not permitted entry due to lack of space. Security personnel said that 19,000 people had registered for the event.
Trump is here to ramp up support with Maryland’s presidential primary set for Tuesday, April 26. A recent Monmouth University poll shows Trump easily winning with the support of 47 percent of the state’s potential primary voters.
Outside Decatur an army of state troopers guarded the premises and were joined by local police dressed in riot gear in case the dozens of protestors congregating in the parking lot resorted to violence. Once inside the school, all visitors, including press, were required to empty their pockets and walk through a metal detector with Secret Service agents closely watching.
Prior to Trump’s arrival, the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangle Banner was sung. Once Trump arrived the audience began shouting “Trump, Trump, Trump,” and “USA, USA, USA.”
After taking stage, Trump almost immediately took aim at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, pulling out his new nickname to describe her character.
“We are going to beat crooked Hillary,” Trump said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton will not have a chance, she’s not bringing jobs back, she doesn’t know about the economy, she makes bad decisions.”
Trump subtly referenced Clinton’s email scandal in which she used a private server to conduct official government business while Secretary of State and said that alone should disqualify Clinton from even running for president.
When discussing policy, Trump did not offer specifics, but did espouse populist rhetoric, which strongly resonated with the audience.
On foreign policy, Trump said, “We’re gonna build up our military so strong and so powerful, nobody is gonna mess with us.”
Regarding job creation and trade policies, Trump suggested he is the only candidate with the requisite experience needed to expand economic opportunity and said he is the only candidate willing depart from the status quo on free trade agreements.
“It’s an instinct and if you don’t have the instinct, you’ll never ever be able to do it, you won’t even have a clue Trump said.” We’ll continue to be ripped off by China, by Mexico, by India, by Japan, by Vietnam, by every single country that we do business with and it’s not gonna happen anymore-if I’m elected it’s not going to happen anymore.”
Trump also said he would try to prevent jobs from moving to Mexico and subsequently explained he believes Mexican leaders are smarter than their American counterparts.
“The problem is the Mexican leaders are too smart, too cunning, too sharp-for our leaders and their ripping us so badly,” Trump said. “And I don’t blame them, I blame our leaders, I don’t blame them, my hats off to them, and if they can get away with it with me then [inaudible].”
Following that brief assessment the crowd began shouting, “build that wall,” in reference to Trump’s promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Trump acquiesced and then egged the crowd further.
“OK, OK, we’ll build the wall,” Trump said and subsequently asked who would pay for the wall at which point the audience answered “Mexico.”
Trump also credited himself with bringing the issue of illegal immigration into primary debates.
“This is a subject that if I didn’t bring it up, it would not even be talked about right now,” Trump said.
Trump also made several references to fellow Republican candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz saying he is untrustworthy and repeatedly referred to Cruz as “lyin’ Ted.”
Prior to the event, the Post-Examiner spoke with Trump supporters as well as protestors.
Ronnie Dieter, 18, of Berlin, told the Post-Examiner he looks forward to casting his first vote in a presidential election for Trump.
“He’ll make America great again,” Dieter said.
Dieter also said Trump “speaks his mind and that’s what we need; someone who will do what he says.”
Buck Mann, 70, of Ocean City, said he is still uncertain whether to support Trump or Cruz but will most likely wind up voting for Trump because he believes the real estate mogul has the best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton.
Mann also said he would like to see “Christians treated the same as Muslims and other religious groups” and believes Trump would try to make that happen.
Gabrielle Franks, 17, of Hebron, was one of nearly a dozen of high school protestors.
“We don’t like his incitement of hateful speech against minorities, Mexicans, African-Americans, Women, immigrants and anyone with opposing beliefs,” Franks said.
Angie Manos, 46, of Berlin, also protested against Trump.
“I’m against his message and how he delivers it,” Manos said.
Manos also said she believes Trump’s views contain elements of “racism and xenophobia.”
Susan Weiss, 60, of Berlin, said she came to the event to show solidarity with the protestors and was disturbed by what she saw.
“There are so many rednecks here,” Weiss said.
Bryan is a freelance political journalist who has extensive experience covering Congress and Maryland state government.
His work includes coverage of the election of Donald Trump, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions-as well as that of the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan has broken stories involving athletic and sexual assault scandals with the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.