October 22, 2021

TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY! – Donald Trump Storms Phoenix

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks on stage to speak before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Most other candidates would have folded. Some might have doubled down. On Saturday, Donald Trump tripled down.

After refusing to back off during weeks of fierce backlash for his comments about the alleged criminality of undocumented Mexican immigrants, Trump met on Friday in Beverly Hills with the families of people killed by such immigrants. A day later, he came to Arizona and said, “We have to stop illegal immigration. We have to. We have to,” to the cheers of 4,000 supporters.

On Monday, RNC Chairman Reince Preibus called Trump to congratulate him on his success and reportedly ask him to “tone it down.”

But Donald Trump only tones it in one direction: up.

“I love the Mexican people … I respect Mexico … but the problem we have is that their leaders are much sharper, smarter and more cunning than our leaders, and they’re killing us at the border,” said Trump, in front of a giant American flag at the Saturday afternoon rally at the Phoenix convention center. He added, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”

At one point, Trump brought a man named Jameel Shaw up to the podium to talk about his late son, explaining, “an illegal immigrant shot him violently.”

Trump also said that he supports legal immigrants. “They flow in like water, and I love legal immigration. I love it,” he said. “We should make it easier, and faster.”

Ahead of the event, John McCain called Trump’s immigration comments “offensive.” Arizona’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake, called his views “coarse, ill-informed and inaccurate.” News outlets and fact-checkers pointed out that Trump’s assertion — that the undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico are that country’s criminal element — appears to be flat wrong.

But while the press and the party condemn Trump’s rhetoric, many voters are eating it up. When Trump mentioned McCain, the crowd booed.

People who showed up for the event said that, like them, Trump is a straight-talker. They ascribed their enthusiasm, in some cases devotion, to their conviction that Trump alone has the courage to say what other politicians believe (and at least when Trump looked out at the scene and declared,“This is absolutely unbelievable,” they were probably right).

Hazel Powell, 68, said she is happy for the first time in seven years because of Trump’s candidacy. After President Obama’s election, she went into self-exile in Bulgaria, where she taught English for two years in the Peace Corps. “I was depressed every day,” said Powell, wearing a cowboy hat, American flag nail polish, American flag cowboy boots, and a shirt that said, “Arrest Obama.”

“He just seems to have things clear in his head,” said Powell of Trump. “I just hope he keeps it up because I’m happy now. He’s done a number on me and many other people, emotionally.”

“He says what he means like I do. He’s not wishy-washy,” said Joan Rosicki, 67, of Phoenix. “He’s for the people. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. He also is for the Spanish people. I am, too. We just don’t like the lawlessness.”

She said she had been a fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie until he took a helicopter ride with, and hugged, President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Of the president, she said, “he wants to be a dictator. I don’t know if he’s ever going to leave. My friends all told me he has to because of the First Amendment.”

A spokeswoman for Trump said 10,000 people had signed up for free tickets (those tickets were spotted being sold on Craigslist for $100). The ballroom’s maximum occupancy was 2,158. A convention center event staffer said the fire marshall had agreed to allow twice that number inside and estimated that at least 1,000 more people would be left out in the sun.

When the door opened to let supporters into the ballroom, the first wave ran in, creating a miniature stampede.

Diane Brest, the first person in line an hour before Trump’s scheduled 2 p.m. arrival, said she had been waiting there since 4:45 a.m. “You want to make sure you get in the door,” said the transplant from New York, clutching a red Solo cup. As she spoke, security broke up a scuffle that had broken out between two men behind her over their places in line.

In a YouGov/Economist online poll released on Thursday, Trump led the Republican field with 15 percent support, four points ahead of both Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. His lead was even greater when the poll tabulated respondents’ first- and second-choice candidates.

Trump chose his Saturday venue well. In Arizona, home to some of the most fervent opposition to illegal immigration in the country, even some political leaders had his back. “Trump is kind of telling it like it really, truly is,” said the state’s former governor, Jan Brewer, who supported some of the country’s strictest and most controversial anti-immigration efforts in office, ahead of his visit.

Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, spoke before Trump arrived. Arpaio has earned national notoriety for his aggressive approach to targeting undocumented immigrants. In 2013 a federal court found him guilty of racial profiling — the Justice Department concluded in 2011 that he oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in the nation’s history — and he’s been accused of abuse of power and violating election laws.

Arpaio drew loud cheers, saying that both he and Trump had questioned Obama’s citizenship and taken on “the illegal immigration problem,” and that they shared a birthday — June 14.

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