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A Day After Canceled Rally, Commotion Again Disrupts Trump Event


We're going to start the program today in Ohio where Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail after backing out of a rally last night in Chicago after a series of physical confrontations between protesters and Trump's supporters. Trump called off the Friday night rally saying the campaign was worried about the safety of those attending. But in Ohio today, Donald Trump made it clear he was not happy about the decision.


DONALD TRUMP: They really stopped these people in terms of our First Amendment freedom of speech - a terrible situation, I have to tell you.

MARTIN: NPR's Don Gonyea is on the campaign trail with Donald Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, and he's going to tell us more. Hi, Don.


MARTIN: Don, we heard that at Donald Trump's earlier rally this morning in Dayton, Ohio, that things got a little tense when a protester tried to get on stage, sending Secret Service agents scrambling. What about at the event in Cleveland - anything unusual there?

GONYEA: Yeah. In Dayton, they tried to kind of breach the buffer between the candidate and the audience. In Cleveland here, just a normal Donald Trump rally, which means there were at least half a dozen instances where people would start chanting. They would, you know, hold up - I saw a Bernie sign get held up or they'd start yelling things, and people surrounding them - the Trump supporters - would all start chanting Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump. And then they'd be escorted out. And I did see one shoving match, kind of wrestling match almost very close to me between a Trump supporter and a protester. But that's the kind of thing you get at almost every Donald Trump rally, so kind back to normal today.

MARTIN: What are Trump supporters saying to you about what happened in Chicago?

GONYEA: There was a long, long, long line of cars to get in here this morning. The event didn't start 'til 2. At 9 a.m., there was at least a half a mile-long line of cars to abreast, so I kind of worked that line this morning. To a person, people said what happened yesterday in Chicago only made them want to be here even more today. Some in fact said that they only came today because of that yesterday, so they came to stand up for Donald Trump and to defend him.

MARTIN: There are still other candidates in the race, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich, both Republican presidential hopefuls. Both of them said today that the violence at the Trump rallies is prompting them to reconsider previous commitments to support the GOP nominee even if it's Donald Trump. And I'm wondering whether those statements are having any sort of impact in the Trump campaign.

GONYEA: Donald Trump continued to mock both Rubio and Kasich today from this event. At one point, when somebody was protesting, he said nobody shows up like that at my opponent's events because they're not important enough, 'cause nobody cares. Well, in terms of kind of the bigger picture, Donald Trump is the front-runner. He does have to start winning delegates at a slightly faster pace than he is now if he wants to get the convention with the needed delegates in hand. But he figures if he wins Florida, which he thinks he's going to do, and Ohio, which he thinks he's got a good shot at, than that won't be an issue at all.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Don Gonyea traveling with the Donald Trump campaign in Cleveland, Ohio. Don, thank you.

GONYEA: All right, we'll talk soon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!