PHOENIX — Donald Trump’s visit Saturday drew about 6,000 supporters despite triple-degree temperatures and ended without the violent incidents or major disruptions seen at some of his other rallies.
While there were no major protests at the rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, several speakers including Trump used fiery rhetoric against Hillary Clinton and President Obama, Democrats in general, gun-control advocates, illegal immigrants, the media and even some Republicans.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who addressed the crowd before the presumptive Republican presidential nominee took the stage, had harsh words for members of his own party who continue to dance around formally endorsing the billionaire businessman.
Specifically, Arpaio wondered aloud why some Republicans prefer to say they “support the nominee” rather than uttering Trump’s name. “Apparently, they support Hillary,” Arpaio quipped about the unnamed Arizona politicians.
During a 40-minute speech, Trump repeatedly reminded the crowd, which filled about half of the arena, of his pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico.
He predicted that without securing borders and building the wall, the U.S. would continue to suffer violent attacks from Islamic terrorists.
If elected, Trump vowed, he would “knock the hell out of ISIS” and said, “We are going to start winning like no one has ever seen before.”
In the aftermath of last weekend’s mass shooting in Florida, Trump said, he will continue to fight for the Second Amendment, despite what he called attempts by Democrats and gun-control advocates to use the tragedy for their own political ambitions.
“This was not about guns, this was about terrorism,” he said, suggesting that the shooting might have ended differently if there were armed patrons inside the nightclub.
Trump claimed Clinton has accepted donations from countries that have “killed gays” and “enslaved women.”
Turning to domestic issues, he claimed Clinton would raise taxes but that he would sign the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.
Describing empty, rusted-out towns he has seen across the country, he vowed to bring jobs back to the United States, saying Latinos will support him for that reason.
He called NAFTA one of the most “destructive acts” to the economy, and reminded his audience that President Bill Clinton signed it into law.
Regulations are killing business, he said, saying he would get rid of the Dodd-Frank banking-regulation law and “most regulations.”
Trump said he will economically punish companies that have moved overseas or plan to leave the U.S., and vowed to levy new taxes on their imports.
He railed several times against the press, calling Politico “a rag” and CNN untrustworthy. At least one media outlet, Buzzfeed, was not allowed into the rally.
He said media reports of the continued possibility of a fight at the Republican National Convention are “pure fabrication,” and the crowd turned to boo working reporters on the coliseum floor.
Supporters at the rally included 48-year-old Kimberley Clayton of Phoenix, who said, “We need a nonpolitician in office — somebody who can’t be bought out. I’ve never voted Republican in my life until now. I’m an independent.”
A single protester was removed from the arena, hours before Trump took the stage for wearing a T-shirt that used profanity to denounce Islam. Officials had Arizona Department of Public Safety officers escort him out after he refused to turn the shirt inside-out.
Before the doors opened for the rally, a group of protesters met at Encanto Park, about a mile from the venue.
Bryan Sanders, a protester who was punched in the face at Trump’s rally in Tucson in March, attended. The protest in the park “was pretty relaxed,” he said.
Sanders said planned protests failed to materialize Saturday because of “the way that these events are set up.”
He said it was difficult for protesters to get near the actual event.
“It’s probably a good idea that they’re separating it like this,” Sanders said. “I’m not a fan of violence.”
This time, it seems, he was bored and went to his vehicle, leaving early.
Phoenix police Lt. Paul Taylor praised the numerous officers who were charged with monitoring the streets surrounding the venue and the protest area. He said he believes the extreme heat kept tempers from flaring.
“Although I’m not a weatherman and I’m not a doctor, I would submit to you, having been out there all day myself, that may have played a significant role in it,” Taylor said.
Firefighters treated four people for heat-related issues at the scene.
Two people were arrested for minor consumption of alcohol on the property, Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said. They were cited and released.
Earlier Saturday, Trump held a rally in Las Vegas.
Police there said one person, Michael Sandford, 19, was arrested at the event. Sandford allegedly approached an officer under the pretense of getting an autograph but then tried to disarm the officer. Officers quickly took him into custody. He was turned over to the U.S. Secret Service and is expected to face charges.
Inside, the crowd was generally orderly.
Attendees said they were frustrated by how President Obama handled the economy, think they can’t trust Clinton and want to try at least four years with a total outsider in the White House.
“Whether it be a white-man thing, I don’t know,” Henderson resident Teague McClendon, a 44-year-old warehouse sales manager, said as he waited in the long line. “But if you look around, it’s more than that.”