Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continued his campaign swing in New England, making a stop in Burlington, Vermont, where he spoke at the Flynn Center. Trump's campaign not only over-ticketed the event more than 14 times the capacity but also attempted to weed out non-supporters by asking attendees if they backed the candidate before allowing them in.
Burlington fire department officials expressed concern when Trump's campaign issued over 20,000 free tickets to the event. The Flynn Center has a seating capacity for the public of 1,400. Roughly 100 of those seats were reserved for members of the media and Trump's campaign staff.
According to the Burlington Free Press, across the street from the venue, hundreds of demonstrators took to the street—largely anti-Trump—chanted "Deport Trump!" and "Don't give in to racist fear, refugees are welcome here." Meanwhile, rally attendees waiting to enter the venue countered the chants by yelling out "Build a wall!" and "USA! USA!"
In order to filter out non-supporters, Trump's staff refused to admit those who said they either did not support the candidate or were undecided. "We have more than 20,000 people that showed up for 1,400 spots," Trump told the Free Press. "I'm taking care of my people, not people who don't want to vote for me or are undecided. They are loyal to me, and I am loyal to them."
One attendee, Jess Kell of Burlington, was denied access to the speech after she told campaign staff that she was undecided about Trump. She was escorted out by police. Her 17-year-old son, Phineas Totten, however was allowed to enter after he showed staffers his Donald Trump campaign badge.
The Burlington stop was reportedly rife with protesters. Trump was interrupted several times by demonstrators, beginning about 30 minutes into his speech. After a pair was escorted out for shouting "Dump Trump!," the candidate said he "loves" protesters because it is the only time the media show's the size of his rally crowds.
Trump was also interrupted by several supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders, who serves as Vermont's senator in Congress, started his political career as Burlington's mayor.
Trump reportedly ordered his security staff to "Get 'em out. Get 'em out." He added: "I respect what they're doing—unless they have a substance-abuse problem, which they probably do." He later told staff to remove another demonstrator that interrupted him and asked that the man's coat be confiscated.
Burlington is his last stop in New England, as he heads off to Rock Hill, South Carolina before stopping in Iowa and Nevada. Trump briefly returns to New England for a stop in Windham, New Hampshire on 11 January and then back to Iowa the following day. The Republican candidate, along with other presidential candidates, are expected to spend some considerable time in New Hampshire and Iowa with the first primary and caucus happening at the start of February.