Donald Trump told the audience at a campaign event in central Illinois on Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters are to blame for his cancellation of a rally on Friday at the University of Illinois campus in Chicago.
Speaking to about a thousand people for an hour in Bloomington, Trump said that the media unfairly targets his supporters and that reports of violence at his rallies are greatly exaggerated.
“If we went to a Bernie rally … Oh, you’ll be in trouble. They’ll lock you up for the rest of your life and give you the electric chair and say, ‘Oh, poor Bernie.’”
Trump supporter Matt Dobey, 38, from Manito, Ill., agreed. “You don’t see one of us going to a Hillary or Bernie rally and try to rush the stage,” he said.
Trump said he postponed his Chicago event after local law enforcement suggested that the thousands of people lining the street outside the venue posed a threat. The Chicago Police Department released a statement late Friday saying that the decision came solely from the Trump campaign.
During his Sunday speech at Synergy Flight Center, a private training center, he blasted his three opponents for the Republican nomination for president. He called Sen. Ted Cruz a “liar” and said Ohio Gov. John Kasich was weak on trade. However, on the Democratic side, he largely took aim at Sanders and barely mentioned front-runner Hillary Clinton.
His speech was interrupted several times by protesters, some of whom who tore up campaign signs. Each time, Trump ordered them to leave. “You see where they put themselves? Right in front of the cameras. That’s all they care about. Disgusting,” he said as one protester was escorted out.
Trump defended the skirmishes that have been reported at previous rallies and defended himself against those who said he is not presidential.
“They say, ‘Why do you treat that person so badly? Well, the person was violent,” he said.
He reiterated stump promises such as building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and personally getting involved in negotiating trade deals directly with countries such as Japan and China. He also promised that companies that had moved jobs overseas — he named Nabisco, Ford Motor Co. and others — would bring them stateside under his administration.
“I’m going to be the greatest job-producing president that God ever created,” he said.
Supporters said they endured a rainy morning to travel to the rally because Trump was the only candidate who took their concerns about illegal immigration and jobs seriously.
“There are illegals everywhere. We have a big mosque in Peoria, so it’s a big concern. It has to be,” said Jerry Adams, 53, from nearby Pekin.
Helen Giallombardo, 55, from Gurnee, Ill., attended Friday’s event in Chicago and said she felt threatened by the protesters who had lined the streets outside the university pavilion. “I understood why he canceled, and I’m grateful,” she said. “Because his life is in danger in that situation.”