Donald Trump brings legions of supporters, protesters to Janesville
JANESVILLE, Wis.-- Donald Trump supporters and protesters sparred prior to a Janesville rally where the divisive presidential candidate criticized Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and promised to protect America from terrorists and trade.
Home to a large General Motors assembly plant until 2008, Janesville’s hard-hit, blue-collar population turned out en masse to listen to Trump peddle closed borders and high tariffs as a remedy for deindustrialization and a slumping middle class.
Critics from all over the state also descended upon the Janesville Conference Center hours before Trump’s speech. Protesters sang folk songs and hurled insults against Trump supporters waiting in line to enter the rally. They said Trump’s rhetoric is divisive and harmful to the national discourse.
“I am a teacher and I have seen this hatred trickle down,” said Erin Creed of Williams Bay. “I have to show that there are people who say that love is stronger than hate and that the things that hold us are stronger than the things that drive us apart.”
Significant contingent of protesters outside rally already. State troopers have them cordoned off pic.twitter.com/ufQrC0ostk— Cardinal Politics (@CardPolitics) March 29, 2016
Watching the protesters in mild amusement stood Trump supporter Michelle Risch. She failed to secure a coveted ticket for the rally, yet proudly stood outside the convention center in the hopes of catching a glimpse of her champion.
The stay-at-home mother rolled her eyes as the protesters chanted against the Trump campaign’s racially charged rhetoric.
“The ones that say you’re racist, them are actually the racist people,” Risch said.
In her view, the protesters are simply afraid of change.
“They feel scared and afraid of what Trump’s gonna do when he does crack down on this country, because maybe they won’t get them welfare checks or their food stamps anymore.”
Other Trump supporters look to the developer to reclaim America’s lost manufacturing base. John Bly worked at Janesville’s Lear Corp. plant which supplied carseats to the G.M. plant until 2008 when both shut down. The former United Auto Workers member now works as a delivery driver for a fraction of his former wage. According to Bly, Trump is the only politician reaching out to the victims of globalization and free trade.
“It started out with NAFTA,” Bly said. “They come over here, they take our jobs for a lower bid and they put us out of a job.”
“Trump’s gonna bring his negotiators and tell them flat out if you can’t do business with us at this cost we’re not gonna sell you nothing,” he added. “We can survive without anyone else.”
Red “Make America Great Again!” hats dotted the convention hall while sunny heartland rock amused supporters as they awaited Trump’s arrival.
Finally, Trump walked to the stage, greeted by rapturous cheers. He immediately laid into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who only hours earlier endorsed Trump’s rival Ted Cruz.
“Walker came out today,” Trump said, but was interrupted by deafening boos. “He’s not doing a great job. He came in on his Harley but the motorcycle guys really like Trump. He doesn’t look like a motorcycle guy.”
Trump praised Wisconsin as “an incredible place but it's a place that has problems … losing thousands of jobs on free trade.”
Locked in a tightening race for the delegates required to win the GOP nomination outright, Trump suggested that he must win the Badger state.
“I really wanna win Wisconsin,” Trump said.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter