Donald Trump’s campaign made every effort Thursday night to prevent protesters and those undecided from entering his rally in Burlington, Vermont — Bernie Sanders’ home turf — but to no avail.
Protesters who were able to enter Trump’s rally chanted slogans like “racist” or “dump Trump,” but the real estate mogul and GOP frontrunner was unfazed, vowing to “take…down” Hillary Clinton.
“I knew I was gonna have some in Vermont in all fairness,” Trump said. “If we didn’t have that it wouldn’t be Vermont. Why do you think the other Republicans our not coming up here folks. I am the only one.”
Justin Griffith, 20, a college student, said that he was turned away from the rally despite having a ticket.
“I told them I was open-minded, and he tells me I have to leave,” Griffth told ABC News. “They say it’s a private event, and only Trump supporters are welcome.”
Those who were not wanted were told by police they’d be trespassing if they stayed. No arrests were made.
Even Trump supporters expressed surprise at the tactic.
“I think they should be let in,” said Lynn Doney of Northfield, Vt. “Turning people away? That’s not right. If they were undecided, maybe he could sway them here.” Doney said he still planned to vote for Trump.
Many of those denied entry joined more than 500 raucous demonstrators across the street from the Flynn Performing Arts Center, where they chanted, danced to music from a brass band and held banners bearing slogans like “Vermont Trumps hate.” As more protesters were booted throughout the event, they received a hero’s welcome from the assembly outside.
Despite the frequent interruptions, Trump stuck to his hit list, attacking all three Democratic candidates. “Time for O’Malley to get out,” Trump said before quickly hitting the guy who started his career in Burlington.
“At least Bernie is getting some action,” he said. “He gets much smaller crowds than me, but at least Bernie gets some action. Oh would I love to run against Bernie. I would love.”
In a statement, Sanders said he wants to take on Trump as well. “Donald Trump and I finally agree on something…It would be an extraordinary campaign and I am confident I would win,” he said.
But once again Trump’s real target was clear: “I have my mind set on Hillary….We’ll take her down.”
In the last several weeks, Trump has shied away from attacking his Republican rivals — but not tonight. “We started off with 17. One by one they disappear,” he said.
While President Obama held a town hall on gun violence in Virginia this evening, Trump doubled down on his pledge to remove gun-free zones.
Trump will be campaigning throughout the weekend, making a stop in South Carolina tomorrow evening, a double stop in Iowa Saturday and for the first time campaigning on a Sunday — in Reno, NV.