In his first campaign visit to the state, Donald Trump guaranteed a November victory in Washington, something no Republican presidential candidate has accomplished since 1984.
Just days after vanquishing his Republican primary rivals, Donald Trump did not call for unity and reconciliation in the Republican Party, splintered by his presidential run, during his first campaign visit to Washington state.
Instead Trump spent much of a 45-minute speech Saturday at a Lynden, Whatcom County, fairgrounds recounting his primary victories and scolding doubters. He reserved his harshest scorn for his presumptive Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her allies.
“Can you imagine another four years of the Clintons? It’s time to move on,” he said.
Although several hundred protesters showed up, and some tried to foil Trump’s arrival by blocking a road, the event was largely peaceful. Three protesters were cited for disorderly conduct, police said.
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Trump’s message that timber and other blue-collar jobs were vanishing due to poor political leadership was well-received by thousands of cheering supporters in Lynden and at an earlier rally in Spokane. “Few people use more timber than Donald Trump, I can tell you that,” he said in Spokane.
One supporter, Jason Swendt, discounted concerns about Trump’s trade proposals, saying, “I don’t believe that Trump is going to put us into another recession. If anything I think he’s going to help me keep my job.” Swendt works at the Intalco aluminum smelter, which has been threatened by foreign competition.
Trump vowed to accomplish something in November no Republican presidential candidate has done since Ronald Reagan in 1984: win the Evergreen State. Trump’s visit to Washington comes ahead of the state’s May 24 presidential primary.
Trump’s Lynden speech bounced from topic to topic. He promised to build a “beautiful wall” on the Mexican border and warned Washington residents of refugees from Syria. He rattled off statistics about lost construction and manufacturing jobs. He criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for getting injured on a bicycle ride.
Trump didn’t, however, talk about unifying the Republican Party after his campaign roiled the GOP and led some party stalwarts to denounce him. Instead, he called primary rival Sen. Lindsey Graham a “lightweight” and again chided former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for “low energy.”
Trump believes he can win the general election even if the Republican Party does not unify around his candidacy.
“Does it have to be unified? I’m very different than everybody else, perhaps, that’s ever run for office. I actually don’t think so,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
More than any other target, he zeroed in on Clinton. He called her “crooked” several times and said she was “trigger-happy” in foreign policy. She would abolish the Second Amendment, he said, through liberal appointments to the Supreme Court.
He attacked her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for supporting trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“The trade deals are a disaster,” he said, citing the loss of manufacturing jobs, including those in Whatcom County.
Trump also repeated his claim that he’d been against the invasion of Iraq from the beginning — a boast that has been labeled false by nonpartisan fact-check organizations.
He even attacked a rumored Clinton running mate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. Trump called Warren “goofy” for saying she was part Native American. He said he looked forward to her having to prove her heritage.
While Trump’s poll ratings among women are dismal, partly because of his history of crude comments, he had a throng of “Women for Trump” cheering him at the rally.
“Nobody respects women more than me,” Trump declared, reacting to reports that Clinton plans to spend millions on negative ads aimed at women.
Trump sounded incredulous: “She is married to a man — and nobody, nobody perhaps in the history of politics was worse to women, or abused women more than Bill Clinton.”
Michelle Zylstra of Lynden turned out to cheer Trump with two other women friends. “We just want to get America back on track again to where it used to be,” Zylstra said. “He is no nonsense, and he’ll take us back to the good old days, when everyone worked for a living. Nothing was for free.”
She didn’t like his stance on immigration, saying, “That’s racism, right? But we all make mistakes, I know I do. His core message, though, I agree with.”
Trump drew applause when he turned to his proposed border wall to stop immigrants from Mexico from entering the U.S. illegally.
And the crowd booed loudly as he said some refugees from war-torn Syria were on their way to Washington state. Most recent refugees from the Mideast have received welfare, he said.
“I have a big heart,” Trump said, but added that Syrians should stay overseas in “safe zones.”
Gov. Jay Inslee has welcomed Syrian refugees to resettle in Washington. They have been coming slowly, due to security screenings and other processing. In the last year and a half, roughly 50 Syrian refugees have arrived, according to Sarah Peterson, head of the state Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance.
As the Syrian crisis pushes the U.S. to increase the number of refugees it admits, by 10,000 this year, Washington is poised to resettle some 300 more refugees by year’s end than it did last year, bringing the total to 3,200.
Trump’s immigration stance was a rallying point for protesters.
Conchita Galvez, a 50-year-old Mount Vernon resident, was one of more than a dozen demonstrators with the immigration advocacy group OneAmerica Votes.
Speaking through a translator, Galvez said she came from Mexico to America in 1982 and was on hand Saturday to protest because she worried Trump would be “another Hitler.”
Other demonstrators echoed fears about Trump’s remarks regarding Hispanics and women, and his comments endorsing torture of suspected terrorists.
“We believe very strongly that Trump is dangerous not only for our country, but for global humanity,” said Cindi Williamson of Bellingham.
Her husband, Rob Queisser, stood next to her in a Bernie Sanders T-shirt.
When asked what brought Queisser to the protest, he ticked off a list: “his misogyny, his racism, his xenophobia.”
Swendt, the smelter worker, said Trump “is saying what a lot of people are believing but can’t say because it’s not politically correct.”
Brad Howard, a Bellingham realty agent, said he was a lifelong Democrat attending his first political event — and supporting Trump.
“All my friends are voting for either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump,” Howard said. “We all want the same thing. We want jobs back. You go into Wal-Mart, anyplace, nothing is being made in America anymore. We need to protect ourselves from the globalist influence.”
Supporters began showing up early for the 3 p.m. Lynden rally.
Paul Lavelle of Ferndale arrived at 6:30 a.m. to snag a spot near the front of the line outside the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center. Later, trucks festooned with American flags honked as they rolled down the streets, greeted by jeers from protesters and cheers from supporters.
Inside the rally, a recorded message warned the crowd that while Trump supports the First Amendment, it was a private event and protesters would be removed. The crowd was told not to “touch or harm” protesters but to chant “Trump Trump Trump” and wait for security.
Protesters blocked Highway 539 near the Nooksack River bridge shortly before Trump arrived. The group held a banner saying “Make Lynden Coast Salish Again,” which members said was to contrast the town’s Native American heritage with its “modern history of racism.”
Trump’s camp took a different route, so the blockade didn’t deter his arrival, but other traffic was impacted, Bellingham police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said.
Three protesters were cited for disorderly conduct and released, Vander Yacht said.
Earlier Saturday, Trump’s speaking event in Spokane was also mostly peaceful, with the dozens of protesters vastly outnumbered by supporters.
Trump was joined on the Spokane Convention Center stage by “surprise guest” Mike Leach, the Washington State University football coach. Leach said he was not representing the university in praising Trump.
While Trump was joined on stage in Spokane and Lynden by local officials and members of the state Legislature, members of Washington’s congressional delegation were absent.