Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a rally Thursday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
By Karen Langley and Lexi Belculfine / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG — Donald Trump found a receptive audience Thursday night in Central Pennsylvania, with supporters on a dirt floor of the Farm Show building cheering his promises and more people waiting outside throughout the speech.
“We’re going to win so much, folks, some of you won’t be able to take it, because you’re not used to it,” Mr. Trump said. “We are going to win so much, and you’re going to say, ‘Mr. President, please, please sir, we don’t want to win so much. It’s driving us crazy.’
“And I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry, we’re going to keep winning. We’re going to win at every single level, and we’re going to make America great again.’”
Mr. Trump was one of several presidential candidates and surrogates campaigning in Pennsylvania this week ahead of the state’s primary election Tuesday. In the Republican race, Ohio Gov. John Kasich had events scheduled Thursday in Delaware County and Chester County, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had stopped in Hershey a day earlier. On the Democratic side, Bill Clinton campaigned in Harrisburg Thursday on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had appearances scheduled in Scranton, Reading and Montgomery County.
Mr. Trump’s promise to win may come to pass as far as the vote by Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows him leading the state’s Republican contest by 19 points.
In the Farm Show building, Mr. Trump made a lot of promises. He promised “the most gorgeous wall you’ve ever seen” between Mexico and the United States. He said Apple products would be manufactured in the United States. He said he would increase employment for members of racial minorities.
“I love the Hispanics, and I’m going to get so many jobs for the Hispanics, for the African Americans, for people that can’t get jobs now,” he said.
From time to time, Mr. Trump threw in a local reference.
“I gotta win Pennsylvania, that’s what I ought to win,” he said. “Pennsylvania. I mean Cruz doesn’t even know where Harrisburg is.”
Flitting from issue to issue during a 55-minute speech, Mr. Trump touched on many of the same issues he’s been hitting during his campaign.
He said he would repeal Obamacare, strike smarter trade deals, “take care of our vets,” and reduce the federal deficit.
Every so often, his speech would be interrupted by a protester, who police would promptly handcuff and lead out of the arena as his supporters jeered and Mr. Trump himself joined in.
“Get ’em out,” he said as one protester was stopped cold by Pennsylvania State Police troopers.
“Do we love our police?” Mr. Trump bellowed as another protester was led out the door. “By the way, are Trump rallies fun?”
At the end of the rally, Randy Meredith, 61, of Cumberland County, said he planned to vote for Mr. Trump on Tuesday.
“I’d be glad if he just gets the wall done,” he said. “It’s a start. Right now we’re doing nothing.”
Outside, long lines wrapped around the building for hours, even as Mr. Trump began speaking inside.
Joe Kempf, 27, of Harrisburg was still outside about 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes after the rally was to begin, and knew he and his sign — which read BRING JOEPA BACK in blue letters on a white board — wouldn’t make it inside. The sign was a nod, of course, to Mr. Trump’s comment last week in Pittsburgh about the late Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno.
“We knew there would be some protesting and some Trump supporters, and we just wanted to have a neutral sign. Something funny, something to bring some light to the whole thing,” Mr. Kempf said.
Supporters outside live-streamed the candidate’s message, listening on their phones.
Ron Tamecki, 53, of Dillsburg, York County, said he couldn’t remember the last time an election excited him so much. A Trump presidency would move the country in the right direction, he said.
“He would improve not only the economy with foreign trade, but socially, he would bring back an age where people cared about working,” Mr. Tamecki said. “ … Back in the day when my grandfather was around, you were embarrassed to be on welfare. Today, you hit the lottery.”
As the rally let out about 8:10 p.m., hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters chanted at each other across a street outside the center, though all had departed without trouble by 9 p.m.
A “love trumps hate” chant was met by one of “get a job.”
One fan of Mr. Trump yelled at Nyquan Wilson, 18, of Harrisburg to “Go back to Africa.”
“I thought it was funny. I’ve never even been to Africa. This whole generation of hate and bigotry is going to die out,” said Mr. Wilson, who is black and said he would be casting his vote for Democrat Bernie Sanders on Tueday.
Karen Langley: email@example.com or 717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley. Lexi Belculfine: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc. The Philadelphia Inquirer contributed.
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