Candidate won NH primary by playing the Trump card
A week before Donald Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary, Hampshire Hills was at capacity with people eager to see what the leading Republican candidate had to say. Supporters of one of the most controversial presidential candidates started lining up four hours before his scheduled arrival time, many dressed in Trump T-shirts, hats and even wigs.
While most supporters appeared older, Trump had quite a large number of young supporters at the event.
"I like Trump because of his strong foreign policy and the immigration policies that other candidates like won’t take on as strongly," said Adam Caplet, a 19-year-old from Pembroke. When asked which was his favorite Trump policy, he responded, "ISIS, because they’re like an abomination to this Earth. Obama just neglected to take them on, like he just thinks they’re a non-issue."
Related to ISIS is the issue of immigration. At Hampshire Hills, Trump said, "I want people to come into the country, but they have to come in legally."
His proposed plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico had a lot of support from his fans, as well.
"I think it’s absolutely excellent," said Amherst resident Rienna Decodis. "(Supporting Trump’s policy on illegal immigrants) does not mean that I’m a racist. It just means I’m not a moron."
When asked why she supported Trump’s policy on immigration, Nancy Schofield replied, "I remember my grandfather and my grandmother had to prove a lot to come here, and if I went to another country, I’d have to have work papers and such … (Illegal immigrants) are taking away from a lot of people that really need the homes here."
Another topic Trump focused on heavily throughout his event was climate change – or, more accurately, the lack of climate change.
"Somehow," Trump said, "I think that ISIS, Russia, radical Islamic terrorists, China, this maniac from North Korea – somehow I think that that’s a bigger threat than global warming right now," Trump declared with plenty of support from the crowd.
Not all of the people who attended, however, supported Trump. Many were there to learn more about the political race as a whole.
"To be honest, the main reason I went was for the entertainment factor," said Jorick Ehrenstein, a senior at Souhegan. "Trump’s campaign seems so ridiculous to me that it’s actually pretty comical. It blows me away that he’s built himself such a huge following, but clearly there are a lot of people here in our area that love him."
And entertainment was not the only reason people attended. The event attracted many protesters, some from Souhegan High School.
Claire Foley, a Souhegan senior, gathered a crowd of about 50 people to stand at the Hampshire Hill’s entrance with signs protesting the event and Trump’s policies as a whole.
"I decided to start the protest after just throwing the idea around with some friends," Foley said. "Emma Naprta and a couple of other Souhegan kids attended the NextGen Climate Change conference in the fall, and a huge part of that was surrounding protesting, making your voice heard, and doing it in an appropriate way."
While Trump told the crowd he loved his protesters, the protesters would beg to differ. Rachael Facey, Seth Facey, Isabel Cullen and Hannah Rowe, all Souhegan students, attended the rally for informational purposes, yet were asked to leave by former Souhegan student Danny Tiso.
"I felt that we were being treated unfairly, because we weren’t doing anything except listening to what Trump had to say," Rowe said. "I don’t think they had the right to kick us out just because we didn’t like the candidate."
Regardless of whether support Trump, everyone who attended the event got something positive out of it.
"There’s nowhere else in the world where you can do this," said Trump impersonator Eric Jackman. "Where you can come and see the candidates, you can dress as the candidates, everyone’s engaged, everybody knows about the candidates and they don’t make up their minds until they step in the voting booths."
Alex Cullen is a senior at Souhegan High School in Amherst.