Touting a self-funded political campaign, his call to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and his disdain for the current state of U.S. foreign policy, Donald Trump was met with shouts of support and demonstrations of protest in Waterloo, Iowa, Wednesday. (Oct. 7, 2015)
Trump continued a theme in his campaign appearances – abstention from “political speak,” which he defined as a weak tone via digs against fellow Republican Party presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Trump compared the tone he takes to that of Winston Churchill while positioning 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 1,100 at Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo. More than 100 more listened outside.
Trump said the United States is “losing to Mexico and China on trade” and outlined the plans he would have to build a wall, which he once dubbed as “The Great Wall of Trump,” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Missing in this address were his plans for a mass deportation of 11 million to 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.”
Pete Moreno, a Waterloo resident and protestor, said implicit in Trump’s ideology about Latino immigrants is 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.”
But 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 United States through legal means.
Jared Girres, a freshman criminology major at the University of Northern Iowa, said he does not agree with Trump on any issue. He came, Girres said, 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, Wisconsin, waited outside the venue to listen to Trump. He said he is an independent who initially supported Hillary Clinton but switched to Trump because of Trump’s stance on immigration and his tax plan.
Trump mentioned taxes only once during his speech, saying a tax plan he’s presented will lower taxes for middle income Americans “big league.”
Trump also was silence during the Wednesday stop in Waterloo on climate change, another topic that drew protest from fFive audience members wearing “The Climate Mobilization” shirts held signs and chanted, “mobilize now.” The signs were quickly taken 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 and that the country should rally around the issue with the same enthusiasm as World War II.
Trump remained consistent on ISIS, saying 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.
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 the most recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/Marist opinion poll. The poll in Iowa, conducted Sept. 23-30 of 431 potential Republican caucus-goers, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
He received a shaky endorsement from Dan Gable, whose hometown is Waterloo and who appeared last week at a Bobby Jindal rally near his current home near Iowa City.
“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.”