WALKER—Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made his first stop in West Michigan during his 2016 campaign tour Monday night at the DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center.
Of the many topics mentioned throughout his speech, Trump met applause as he continually referred back to Michigan’s auto industry.
“They can’t take our jobs, take our base, they can’t take our money,” Trump said, referring to Mexico and Japan. “They can’t come in and take your factories and have cars made in Mexico and have cars made in Japan and have cars made all over the place except here.”
Trump assured the crowd he wants to “put people back to work.”
He said, “We want to make our country strong. We want to create good health care, not Obama Care, which is a disaster.”
The crowd applauded before Trump could continue with his desire to “take care of our veterans.”
Later in his speech, Trump came back to his concerns about Mexico, saying the companies Nabisco and Ford are moving to Mexico and taking business away from the United States.
“Mexico is becoming the China nearby,” Trump said, drawing a negative response from the crowd. “They are taking our business.”
Finally, Trump spoke of his presidential plans to fight illegal immigration.
“We have to build a wall,” Trump said, drowning in applause. “It’s going to be a great wall, it’s going to be a real wall, nobody’s coming over that wall.”
Later Trump said people would be able to pass the wall, but only legally.
Following the speech, Trump supporters crowded the halls, sporting hats and shirts with Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
For 18-year-old Patrick Nicholson of Grand Rapids, tonight’s rally solidified his decision to vote for Trump.
“(I agree with) his stance on immigration,” Nicholson said. “Going after ISIS, I feel like Obama has been very not proactive when it comes to that and I feel like Donald Trump is more … involved in going after ISIS and taking them down.”
Among the thousands that filled the Deltaplex, over five protestors were escorted out of the building after interjecting loudly during the speech. Trump called them “losers” and asked his security not to hurt them, noting one wasn’t brave enough to “throw a punch.”
Outside the arena, even more people gathered to protest Trump’s presence in the city.
Mike Deruiter, 41, member of the Grand Rapids Anti-war Committee, helped organize the group of protesters, along with Stacie McCarthy, 30, who led other protesters in a Facebook event entitled, “Dump the Trump.”
“The brand of speech that people like Mr. Trump are using, it’s hurtful, it’s hateful,” Deruiter said, “I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I have two kids … Was I scared throwing this thing together? Absolutely. But the thing is, if I’m not going to stand up, who is going to stand up?”
McCarthy, a student at Grand Rapids Community College, came dressed in a Deadpool costume, a Marvel character, holding a sign that read, “Trump = Hell Toupee.”
“I’m definitely against his anti-immigrant stance, his anti-refugee (stance), anti-Muslim (stance), basically the sheer ridiculous and stupidity that comes out of his mouth and the fact that people eat that up and they take it to heart and it only increases the hate and fear in our country,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also sported a Bernie Sanders sticker.
“I do support Bernie Sanders but this doesn’t have anything to do with Bernie,” McCarthy said. “This has everything to do with people standing up against bullies and people with that kind of hateful mindset that don’t need to be in charge of our country.”
Ariel Sosa contributed to this report.