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Primary Voters Weigh In On Trump Clashes

Supporters of Donald Trump attend a campaign event at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday.
Jeff Swensen
/
Getty Images
Supporters of Donald Trump attend a campaign event at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday.

When a Donald Trump rally was cancelled in Chicago on Friday night after violent clashes broke out between protesters and Trump supporters, it set the tone for the next few days on the campaign trail.

More than a thousand people were lined up outside a Trump Rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday. They were buzzing about the events of the night before in Chicago and more that ready to show their support for Donald Trump.

Many in this crowd said they were angered by the protests aimed at disrupting Trump.

For Scott Brown, a 41-year-old landscaper from Canton, the issue was that liberals think free speech only applies to them.

"This is a double standard between liberals and conservatives," Brown said. "You know the liberals can't-- you know, they don't like the truth."

With more interruptions at events over the weekend, sometimes Trump engaged the protesters verbally. His supporters would also, always shouting them down.

But Brown predicted it will only have one lasting impact on Trumps campaign: "It's gonna make us stronger, you know?"

Meanwhile, Trump says he bears no responsibility for the sometimes ominous atmosphere at his events.

At a John Kasich for President event Sunday in Strongsville, Ohio, there was a different take on the disruptions, which recently included a Trump supporter punching a protester in the face as the protester was being escorted out by police.

Brian Blowes, a human resources manager in Strongsville said of Trump, "I think he instigates some of those things."

Blowes, who said he'll vote for Kasich tomorrow, predicted that the Trump rallies will calm down, and so will the candidate as he gets closer to the GOP nomination and looks to broaden his appeal.

Also at the Kasich event was 52-year-old book editor Amy Nolan, who described herself as a newly-registered Republican.

As for the Trump campaign, her assessment was not kind. "It's deplorable and laughable, of course, and there's great entertainment value, but it's also pretty dangerous, I think," Nolan said.

"If Trump has engendered this much unrest just in his candidacy, I fear what tumult will be engendered in a Trump presidency," she added.

But seated nearby by at the Kasich event was an undecided voter who said he's trying to choose between Kasich and Trump.

Rob Jarowski is a 31-year-old bank analyst who also attended the Saturday Trump rally in Cleveland. At that event there were a half dozen interruptions by protestors and one brief scuffle in the crowd. Jarowski used a heated local football rivalry as comparison.

"I'm a Cleveland Browns fan. I've been to Browns-[Pittsburgh] Steelers games. So I would say that rally was more tame than a Browns-Steelers game," Jarowski said.

Asked whether a political rally should be more tame than what can happen even the stands at a Browns-Steelers game, he laughed.

"The tone of the country is changing a little bit. We are frustrated with the status quo. So, I mean, if we get some excitement around our political events, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing," Jarowski said.

But on that point, there's plenty of disagreement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.

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