Donald J. Trump reached in one of America’s most developing cities on Thursday night. He had a very pompous message that has attracted Republican voters into the backyard of a Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The arrival of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to Burlington attracted its earliest spectator at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and continued through the evening. Trump was scheduled to speak at the Flynn Center at 7 p.m., and took the stage at 7:30 p.m.
Nearly 2,000 people lined up starting at 4:30 a.m. for access to the Flynn Center, Chief Brandon del Pozo told the Burlington Free Press. The Trump campaign instituted a loyalty test at the door and allowed into the 1,400-seat Flynn Center only people who professed support for the candidate.
A circuslike atmosphere greeted Mr. Trump as many more people tried to get into the event than the Flynn Center for Performing Arts could hold. A brass band played as demonstrators protested outside, and many waited hours to get into the rally, with organizers turning away activists who said they supported Mr. Sanders.
“They’re afraid to come up here because it has a tendency to be a little bit liberal, a little bit rough,” Mr. Trump said of his Republican rivals. “When you look at the candidates, I’m like the only one.”
“We could only get a small fraction of this 25k crowd in,” Trump tweeted after his speech. “The movement to Make America Great Again is unbelievable.” Burlington’s mayor is criticizing the conduct of the Donald Trump campaign in planning and carrying out Thursday night’s speech.
Miro Weinberger monitored the Trump event from his office overlooking Main Street in a darkened City Hall Thursday night. Weinberger was joined by his chief of staff, Brian Lowe, and spokeswoman Jennifer Kaulius.
“Seeing Mr. Trump himself apparently tweeting that they’re going to take care of their own tonight, that doesn’t sound like the words of a president to me,” Weinberger said. “If he were elected president I’d hope he would understand that he’s got a responsibility to all Americans, whether they agree with him or not.”
Weinberger added that he believed the lack of organization and communication by the Trump campaign resulted in higher costs for the city and more disruption to local businesses. He said the campaign would be billed for the full cost to the city for handling the event, and that it would run into the thousands of dollars.
“I’ll be here until the crowd has left and the situation is under control,” Weinberger said. “Then I’ll go home and get some sleep.”
Earlier in the day, even Ben Cohen, a co-founder of the iconic ice cream chain, got into protesting spirit as he walked down the street with a lit-up Sanders campaign sign.
“Trump is here in our backyard, and we want to make it clear that we are dyed-in-the-wool Bernie people,” Mr. Cohen said.
Many who waited to hear Mr. Trump speak said they thought he and Mr. Sanders have some things in common even though they sit on opposite ends of the political spectrum.