Trump tries to stay on message in NC amid wave of protests


CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Protesters have become commonplace at Donald Trump’s political rallies, but the multitude of interruptions Monday in North Carolina made it somewhat difficult for the businessman to stay on message.

A few minutes into Trump’s speech on trade, jobs and foreign policy to a packed Concord area, protesters made themselves known to the crowd of thousands. As he typically does, Trump urged law enforcement and security teams to “get ’em out of here,” to thunderous cheers from his supporters.

The interruptions continued every few minutes from a variety of groups, all seemingly unaffiliated and not voicing objection to any particular position. Before Trump even took the stage, a group of more than a dozen young people, of varying races and clad mostly in black and white, were escorted out of the building after linking hands and standing alongside the stage.

During Trump’s speech, a man was scurried through the crowd by police officers as he made obscene gestures, raising both middle fingers. A lone woman stood and shouted in protest, her exact comments unclear. Another handful of young people were removed from a balcony. The final two people escorted from the arena held three fingers in the air in a salute linked to the Hunger Games. One of the men had on a yellow emblem reading, “Stop Islamophobia.”

Trump paused at each interruption. Supporters in the area — home to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a flagship of NASCAR, which endorsed Trump on Monday — simultaneously booed the protesters and cheered on law enforcement.

“Bye, bye,” Trump said from the stage, at one interruption. “Go home to mommy,” he said, as another man — a “little guy” — was removed. “Let her tuck you in bed.”

Trump spent much of his time on stage discussing trade and his ability to create jobs, including here in North Carolina, where his Trump National Golf Club sits about an hour from the arena where he spoke. He also led the crowd in a pledge to cast their votes for him when North Carolina holds its primary on March 15.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/

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