Speaking before a huge crowd at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to make Americans proud and bring jobs back to northwest Washington.
“You’re going to be proud of your country again. We’re going to win with our military, trade deals, education,” said Trump, wearing his signature red baseball cap on a hot, sunny day.
He seemed to make a nod toward mending some fences he’s burned on the campaign trail, saying he’s not thinking of picking a Democrat for vice president because he’s “got enough problems with the Republicans.”
Then at a different point, he said he didn’t care if he fails to unify the party and establishment figures like Jeb Bush skip the convention.
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“I actually think I’ll gain votes,” he said. He accused “This whole establishment” of being on “the gravy train” and pledged it would end.
He bashed Bush, the former Florida governor for not supporting him, though, saying he’s failing to honor a pledge that Republicans took to support the nominee. “He should honor the pledge...even if he doesn’t love me.”
He also claimed he’s going to win blue state Washington and Oregon (which he pronounced as “Or-ee-gone”).
And he continued his attacks on Elizabeth Warren, who he has attacked on twitter, saying he hoped Clinton would pick her as running mate because he’d “love to take them out.”
He repeated a familiar promise — to build a wall on the Mexican border and hold back other immigrants.
“We will build a wall. It will be a nice, high wall,” he said.
Hundreds of Trump supporters and protestors lined the street outside the fairgrounds, while an estimated 5,000 swelled the outdoor grandstands, decked in red, white and blue bunting.
Officials turned away hundreds more who hoped to get in to see the billionaire who is the GOP’s presumptive candidate in the November election.
Rep., Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, sang the national anthen as the crowd waited for Trump. His plane was late leaving Spokane, so his scheduled 3 p.m. appearance reportedly was pushed back by an hour.
At 9 a.m. about 350 people were in line on Kok Road, six hours before the event was set to begin; by noon, the line swelled to more than 1,000, stretching past 19th Street. Security officials began letting the crowd into the grandstands at noon.
Tabitha Staton of Kendall and Connie Streubel of Bellingham staked out the first spot in line by arriving outside the fairground gates at midnight. The two said they cuddled to stay warm through the night, but it was worth it — they were ecstatic when they heard Trump was coming.
Dale Allen, who lives across the street from the fairgrounds, handed out free bottles of water to the crowd, distributing them as he rolled past the line on his Segway. “I would do anything for Trump,” he said.
Several protests are planned for later in the day but by noon most of the protesters were standing alone or in small groups.
Kathy Ferguson of Bellingham was one of the first protesters to stand across from the long line of people waiting to get into the venue on the hot, sunny Saturday morning.
She held a life-sized cutout of Jesus with a sign affixed that read “Trump Sucketh.”
“The Republican Party has always put themselves out as the moral majority and very Christian, and yet right now they are willing to stand behind someone who is a secular humanist who doesn’t even know what the Bible says,” Ferguson said, “I’m just here to let them know they’re supporting somebody who is the antithesis of what they used to espouse.”
Brooks Anderson of Bellingham, one of the early protesters on Kok Road, said “This whole thing about the wall (on the Mexican border) is unconscionable. Everyone’s been an immigrant at some point in time.”
Other protests were more scattered — one group of five younger people walked up and down street chanting “Bernie! Bernie!” and holding signs that said “Dump Trump” and “You’re making America suck again.”
Supporters on other side of street chanted back “Trump! Trump!”
Among the supporters were:
▪ John Beavers, 38, from Belfair, Washington, drove his “Real Trump Truck” to the rally, handing out free stickers and decals. “We’re broken. We need a big change,” he said.
▪ Bren Weatherby, 53, of Lynden said he supported Ted Cruz before he dropped out. Now he’s a Trump supporter. “I live a half mile away, and presidential candidates don’t come every day. How could you not come,” he said as he waited for the rally.
▪ Standing near the front of line, Sara Johnson, 29, of Tacoma said she stayed in hotel Friday night and got in line at 6 a.m. She said she wanted to be here to see a presidential candidate, and wanted her 9-year-old daughter to see as well. She said she’s supported Trump since he announced his candidacy. “I like his honesty, he’s not paid by Wall Street. He wants to bring jobs back to America,” she said.
▪ Brittany Schindler, 25, and Ariona King, 21, both from Deming, were in line with a group wearing “Gays for Trump” T-shirts. King says people assume that because they’re gay, they’re liberals; but that’s not the case for her. “We don’t let our sexual preferences define our political views,” King said. “We’re here to support the conservative party and what’s right for the country,” Schindler added.
Free parking available at the fairgrounds and about three blocks away at the Fairway Center, 1750 Front St., Lynden.
Law enforcement agencies in the area will work together through Whatcom Unified Emergency Management to coordinate site security according to Lt. Bob Vander Yacht, spokesman for Bellingham Police Department. Bicycle patrols from Seattle and Bellevue police on scene, and Seattle and Ferndale officers are helping out, too.
Emergency managements reminds visitors that no liquids will be allowed through gates, but water will be for sale inside, with proceeds going to local charities. Also, no objects that could be thrown (umbrellas, selfie sticks, signs, etc.) allowed into event venue.
Bellingham International Airport reminding travellers to allow extra time due to #TrumpinLynden.