WATERLOO, Iowa — Touting a self-funded political campaign, his efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and his disdain for the current state of U.S. foreign policy, Trump was met with shouts of support and demonstrations of protest at an event in Waterloo Wednesday.
At least part of this rift, for Trump, is due to his abstention from “political speak,” which he defined as a weak tone via digs against Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Trump compared his “strong tone” to that of Winston Churchill. He positioned himself as an outsider candidate.
“I was never a politician before; for three months I’ve been a politician,” Trump told a capacity crowd of 1100 at Electric Park Ballroom, with more than 100 listening outside.
After a review of his poll numbers, citing recent CNN polls in swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Trump launched into his characterization of U.S. trade policy, in which the U.S. is “losing to Mexico and China on trade,” citing trade imbalances of $45 billion and $450 billion respectively.
Trump then outlined his plans to build a wall, which he once dubbed as “The Great Wall of Trump,” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
He didn’t address his plans for a mass deportation of 11-12 million undocumented immigrants; one aspect of Trump’s immigration stance that sparked protest from members of DREAM Iowa and Latino Waterloo residents.
Among the group of some 20 protestors, one held a sign saying: “Deporting 11-12 million undocumented immigrants is inhumane and creates a hole in the economy.”
A person listening to Trump outside yelled to the group, “Do you pay your taxes?”
Pete Moreno, a Waterloo resident and protestor, said he disagrees with Trump’s “ideology towards Latinos, primarily, among others.” He said that implicit in Trump’s ideology is a goal of “restoring” the U.S., in that he wants to “clean the country up again, leaving only the white race.”
Moreno went on to say: “Mr. Trump, we’re not criminals; we’re not rapists or murderers. We are students, engineers and all kinds of other things.”
Amber Burress, of Aplington, who has voted for Democratic candidates in the past, said she connects with Trump’s plan for a mass deportation.
“It’s the tough stance we need,” Burress said. “And I’m not saying that to be racist or to be mean.” She said she wants immigrants to come to the U.S. “the right way.”
Jared Girres, a UNI freshman in criminology, does not agree with Trump on any issue, citing predominantly social issues. Girres said he came “for the entertainment.”
“It’s amazing to me that people can actually agree with some of the things he says,” Girres said.
Keith Coburn, of Prairie du Chien, waited outside the venue to listen to Trump. He said he is an independent that initially supported Hillary Clinton, but switched to Trump due to his stance on immigration and his tax plan.
Coburn felt Trump didn’t address his tax plan enough.
“We’re lowering [taxes] big league for middle income,” Trump said in his only mention of his tax plan that cuts taxes across all tax brackets.
Trump’s notable silence on climate action sparked additional protest. Five audience members wearing “The Climate Mobilization” shirts held signs and chanted, “mobilize now.” The signs were quickly ripped from their hands and Waterloo police escorted them from the premises.
Peter Clay, one “Climate Mobilization” member, said Trump and other Republicans need to address climate change as an issue, and that the country should rally around the issue with the same enthusiasm as World War II. Some protestors were wearing Rosie the Riveter bandanas to symbolize this.
Trump remained consistent on ISIS, saying that he supports Russia “bombing the hell out of ISIS.” He also criticized the Iran Nuclear Deal, saying that we would have been a better negotiator.
Iowa was amazing today. Great crowd, great people. Thanks, will be back soon!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2015
“The Persians are great negotiators ... [but] we want our prisoners back,” Trump said, referring to four American prisoners that are being held in Iran.
Trump was confident in his standing recent polls, though his lead has slipped in Iowa polls. It is down to just a five-point lead over candidate Ben Carson, according to a Sept. 29 NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.
He received a shaky endorsement from Dan Gable, whose hometown is Waterloo.
“A lot of you here are committed to [Trump] and want to go that way for sure,” Gable said. “But I’m here to get an education and to hope to be able to change paths. I put the wrestling hat on and, even though it represents Trump, I’d like to put this Trump hat on as well.”
Matt Reinert, a UNI senior in social work, said he supports Ben Carson and John Kasich because they are “less polarizing” than Trump.
“I didn’t expect it to be this clear demographically,” Reinert said of those who came to see Trump. “I expected it to be more diverse than this, but it’s all middle-aged white [people].”
“If I get elected president ... we are going to be run really smartly,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a country that you’re really proud of.”