Supporters say immigration, ISIS reasons they back Trump

Thousands of Donald Trump supporters waited hours to see the Republican frontrunner’s first Dayton-area rally Saturday, crowding into an open hangar just off the tarmac of Dayton International Airport.

Just before the doors opened at 7 a.m., a line snaked more than a quarter-mile through parking lots and down McCauley Drive — and that was three hours before Trump was scheduled to speak.

Alec Shanahan of Springboro was attending his third Trump rally and worked hard to earn his front-row spot.

“We got there at 11:30 p.m. and were in line (overnight),” he said. “It was freezing by the time we got in there. But it was pretty cool. A really fun experience.”

Local residents grumbled when Trump arrived 50 minutes late, but then roared their approval as he talked about immigration and jobs, attacking ISIS, and his status as an outsider to the traditional Republican Party establishment.

“I’m 61 and I’ve always voted Republican and conservative, but to be honest with you, the last few elections, we’re not getting what we (should) from the people we send up there,” said Charles Blevins of Washington Twp. “Trump is not part of the establishment. … There’s a lot of negatives, but then there are negatives with all of them. … I’m willing to take a chance, and I think a lot of other people are also.”

A lot of people certainly wanted to get an up-close look at Trump. Dayton Airport Police said the Wright Bros. Aero hangar had a capacity of 6,000 people, plus space for more on a small section of the tarmac outside.

Around 9:30 a.m., Trump’s Ohio campaign director, Rob Scott, repeatedly asked people to move to the tarmac, saying the hangar had reached capacity. Scott, a Kettering City Councilman, said the fire marshal wouldn’t let anyone else into the hangar area.

But few people wanted to move after coming hours early to get spots by the stage. So hundreds of people were unable to enter the rally, with some leaving and others trying to listen from outside the building.

Debbie Sowder of Troy said those who did hear Trump loved what he said.

“He’s loved by everybody. He’s a breath of fresh air,” Sowder said. “He says what we’re feeling. He’s in tune with the people, and that’s what we want.”

Not everyone agreed though. Small groups of protesters were scattered around the parking lots and along Dixie Drive outside the airport. Many of their signs focused on Trump’s frequent name-calling and his insults toward immigrant groups, with messages like, “Our country can’t run on hate. Neither should our president.”

A few protesters were removed from inside the rally, to cheers from the crowd. Trump’s supporters were overwhelmingly — but not exclusively — white, and they included many high school and college-age students.

Lakota East High School student Ethan Noble said he sees Americans of all races supporting Trump, but he and classmate Jack Dobrazsi both mentioned concerns about immigration.

“Going into the job market, I worry because not only are there foreigners coming in to work here, but there are people losing their jobs because those jobs are going to foreign countries,” Noble said.

Aaron Heckman of Springfield said the war on terror is his big selling point on Trump.

“I’m all about getting ISIS out of here. That’s what it comes down to for me,” he said. “Trump’s the one who wants to go get them. I think that’s the biggest thing facing our country right now, that threat. I don’t want my kids growing up with that (stuff).”

The rally started with Scott urging voters to get to the polls, and with local businessman Greg McAfee saying a prayer, asking God to watch over Trump and America.

Former Alter High School and Ohio State football star Nick Mangold, now with the NFL’s New York Jets, introduced Trump when his plane arrived.

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