On Sept. 15, a day before the second Republican primary debate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited San Pedro to deliver a 15-minute speech regarding veterans, foreign policy, immigration and other issues aboard the retired World War II ship USS Iowa.
Off of the Iowa, protesters gathered to express their disapproval for Trump and his political and social views. The crowd booed and jeered Trump when he appeared to give his speech. They chanted Trump’s lines regarding immigration and yelled for Trump to leave San Pedro and get off of the Iowa.
“Why do I disagree with him? Well, he [Trump] is against immigrants, when America itself was built by immigrants,” said senior Dayan Gurrola.
“I do not support him at all. I do not like the way he behaves with people,” said San Pedro resident Marvin Bonilla. “He is using immigrants as a way to get to the presidency. Many people hate illegal immigrants and he is using that for his own purpose.”
“Some people do not really know because they are not politically active and the only name that they seem to know is Donald Trump because he is on the media a lot,” said protester Justin Gabiñero. “Everything he says is really blunt and it attracts a lot of people.”
Not all of the people gathered near the Iowa were protesters.
“I came with my uncles in support of Trump,” said Trump supporter Andrew Rogers, who came from New Mexico in hopes of hearing Trump speak. “We wanted to try to hear the speech, but then some protesters came and it got hard to hear. I like that he [Trump] is willing to save the economy. Everybody keeps saying that he is racist and I am racist, but it is not like that. This isn’t a race thing. It is about getting our economy back to the way it was, and the illegals are taking money from the government through welfare and taking money from people who are legal.”
On board the Iowa, Trump supporters gathered to hear Trump speak.
More than 1,000 spectators paid between $100 and $1,000 to listen to Trump’s speech, hosted by Veterans for a Strong America. As “Veterans from WWII” caps filled the audience, people of all ages showed their support by wearing pro-Trump caps, shirts and buttons while holding up signs. Live music played as people who had paid admission were told they would have to stand because their ticket did not cover seating.
This event allowed veterans to attend for free. The founder of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel A. Arends took this opportunity to publicly endorse Trump.
“We are going to be building our military, we are going to make our military so big and so strong and so great and it will be so powerful that I don’t think we’ll ever have to use it. Nobody is going to mess with us,” Trump said.
Trump also said he will ensure that veterans will be treated by private hospitals and doctors. As he said this, the crowd began chanting “Trump” and “USA” in an effort to drown out the protesters outside of the Iowa.
“Look at all these protesters, we must be doing something right,” said Trump.
He added that he had nothing against any other Republicans, but that he was at the top of the polls for a reason. Trump called his supporters the “silent majority” saying “this year will be different.”
“The silent majority is back,” said Trump. He went on to talk about children born to undocumented mothers, or what Donald Trump and others refer to “anchor babies” and said the U.S is the only country to offer born citizenship rights. The people on board expressed their passion and support towards Trump.
“I am Hispanic, and I love Donald Trump. I brought a comb to give to him today,” said Peggy Schubert as she showed off the comb and her Donald Trump shirt. “He is such a gentleman, and I love wearing this shirt. I have another one back at home. I wear it everyday. It has become like a uniform to me.”
Donald Trump said that his business record will help make the country great again.
Trump promised that he would cut trade deficits with China, Japan and Mexico.
“I love free trade. The concept is great but you need smart people. I have the smartest people,” Trump said.
Trump supporter Sheryl Verns believes a businessman should run the country rather than a politician.
“Politicians have lied to us, Obamacare has affected me directly, and I don’t like it. We need someone who will make a change, a real change,” Verns said.
After 15 minutes, Donald Trump concluded his speech and left by throwing out caps and shirts into the audience. As he went into his car he gave a thumbs up to the protesters outside.