To a full house of supporters, Donald Trump announced that Governor Christie’s $400,690 presidential campaign debt had been paid off by ticket sales. Supporters willing to pay $200 ($25 for students) attended last night’s rally held at the National Guard Armory on Eggerts Crossing Road.
Impact on the community included slowed traffic patterns and schedule adjustments of the nearby Lawrence Intermediate School.
Protesters assembled along Eggerts Crossing Road, as early as 3:30 p.m., shouting “No hate in my state” and “Deport Trump.” Occasionally, they were encouraged by cars beeping in support.
Lawrenceville residents, Areta Parle and Frank Goccia, were among the many locals holding signs protesting Trump’s visit. Parle was compelled to come and “speak out against Trump’s misogyny,” while Frank Goccia said that, “Donald Trump is dividing the nation.” A fellow resident stood on the opposite side of Eggerts Crossing Road holding a sign in support of Trump but was afraid to give her name because a protester had said that he wanted to “kick her butt”.
Inside the Armory, supporters listened to speeches made by State Senators Joseph Pennacchio and Michael Doherty, Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede, and Governor Chris Christie. At 7 p.m., the Republican presidential candidate took the stage.
Trump spoke to a spirited crowd wearing star spangled bandanas, red hats, and Trump t-shirts. Pulsing chants of “Build that wall”, “U.S.A,” and “We want Trump” reverberated. And, amidst promises to repeal Obamacare, terminate the Common Core Curriculum, and assurance of building a military “so big and so strong and so powerful that nobody is going to mess with us,” applause frequently erupted.
First-time voters Marissa Gabriele, Mark Chesler, Pamela Stratton, Haig Bakhtiarian, and Val Kudryashob traveled from Rutgers University-New Brunswick because they “love Trump, love the movement, and wanted to see him speak.” When asked what they thought about Bernie Sanders’ campaign promise to provide free college tuition, Kudryashob expressed concern that students wouldn’t “be as motivated to go to college” if it was free. “Loans,” he said, “gives me the incentive to work hard and make sure I have a good GPA”.
By the time supporters left the Armory, the savvy businessman who sold Philly pretzels to the crowd outside was long gone, along with most of the protesters. Left were a few frustrated, enraged people who shouted through the Armory’s metal fence at Trump supporters, who returned insults.
The rally’s impact on the small town of Lawrenceville remains to be seen. As residents, divided last night by Eggerts Crossing Road and opinions on how to “make America great”, walked home, the anonymous Trump supporter, voiced her firm belief that she and her neighbor, a registered Democrat, would continue to be friends.