TYNGSBORO — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump drew more than 1,000 people to the small town of Tyngsboro on Friday night, riling up local supporters as he challenged the status quo.
The billionaire emphasized his love for Massachusetts, radiating a confidence that he could win the primarily blue state.
“What we have is we have a movement,” he told a packed crowd in the Tyngsboro Elementary School gym. “This is not like a normal situation. People are tired, tired — they’re sick and tired of being thrown around.”
Trump hit hard on immigration, arguing that illegal immigrants get treated better than the thousands of veterans waiting for medical care.
“We’re going to build a wall and you know what, we’re going to have a beautiful big door on that wall,” he said to cheers. “And we’re going to keep them coming, and they’re going to come in but they’re going to come in legally.”
Trump also attacked the Iran nuclear deal, what he called the worst deal ever negotiated in history. He noted that he’ll never call Ayatollah Khamenei the “Supreme Leader” as President Barack Obama did.
“The ‘Supreme Leader’ wants to bring death to the United States, death to Israel, without question,” he said. “They’re dancing in the streets and they’re calling us stupid. They’re saying we’re stupid.”
“We are!” came shouts from the enthusiastic crowd.
Trump appeared to win points as he called for better care for veterans and a repeal of Obamacare.
“What’s happening with this Obamacare is a disaster — your deductibles are through the roof,” he said. “Literally you have to get hit with a tractor.”
Insurance companies are making a fortune off of Obamacare, he said.
“Remember the website? Five-billion dollars for a website that still doesn’t work,” he said. “We’re going to take Obamacare and we’re going to make the insurance companies make much less money, but they’ll do fine.”
He drew more cheers from the crowd as he brought local police on stage, shaking hands with Tyngsboro Police Chief Richard Howe.
“Nobody’s going to mess with these guys,” he said.
For Tyngsboro residents waiting in line, Trump was the biggest thing their town had seen in a while.
“I think it’s amazing myself,” said Jean Dean, a resident of 62 years. “I’ve never seen anything like this, not in the town of Tyngsboro.”
Fans painted Trump as a man a little rough around the edges, but not afraid to speak his mind.
“Some things could be polished up but I think he’s come a long way,” said Tyngsboro resident Carol Devanney.
For some, just taking the time to show up in the quiet border town sent a positive message.
“Just to show us that he takes the time to come to a small, little town in Tyngsboro, Mass. means a lot,” Dean said. “Because usually the little people are the ones that feel left out.”
Tyngsboro resident Robert Williams said he was really surprised when he heard about the visit, which felt gratifying in many ways.
“I’m a lifelong Republican and retired military,” he said. “And it’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about a candidate.”
Williams was concerned about Trump’s foreign policy experience but noted his brilliance in business.
“I like 95 percent of what comes out of his mouth, and then there’s 5 percent I wish he wouldn’t say,” he said. “Overall, I think his ideas are good.”
The NARAL Pro-Choice group — the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws — protested as attendees waited in line.
“Stance on women? We don’t buy it, protect our rights or just keep quiet,” they shouted, eliciting some boos from the crowd.
“We want Donald Trump to own his anti-choice, anti-women stance,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Megan Amundson. “We will not be silenced and Massachusetts doesn’t appreciate his positions, and we want to make sure he knows it.”
Police had told the group that they had to be off of school grounds — at the end of the winding driveway that leads to the school — because the Trump campaign had rented the public property as a private event, according to Howe.
But Amundson said the group worked with an attorney to make sure their First-Amendment rights were protected.
“We were able to come to an agreement where we could stand on public property and our First Amendment rights would be protected,” she said. “As well as our abortion rights, hopefully.”