Where the presidential candidate goes, so go his supporters – and his protesters. This is why Friday night’s event at the Connecticut Convention Center promises to be packed.
With 8,000 available tickets, the venue will be standing room only. Already there are protest plans: “All out to protest Trump” is a Facebook event that has gathered interest and RSVPs from over 800 people, including University of Connecticut students.
For example, Anna Brown, an eighth-semester political science and English double major, is considering attending to protest in order “to stand in solidarity with those who are being victimized and targeted by [Trump’s] hateful rhetoric,” she said, while acknowledging that “Trump probably feeds off attention like that.”
“When Donald Trump speaks at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on Friday, April 15, we will rally outside to say that Connecticut says no to racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry of all kinds!” the event description reads.
Activists have demonstrated both inside and outside of Trump rallies from Arizona to New York. West Hartford, Connecticut children from ages eight to 12 recently caused a stir by protesting Trump, which they plan to do every Sunday until he drops out of the race or the race ends.
Eric Pjojian, a fourth-semester actuarial science major at UConn, explained why he is hoping to attend the rally.
“From what I’ve seen of Trump, his vision for America will reward hard work,” Pjojian said. “I remember that I was sold on Trump when a fairly young woman asked him if she would make the same amount of money as a man would doing the same job, and his response was, ‘You will if you do as good a job.’”
The rally begins at 7 p.m., doors open at 4 p.m. Traffic is expected to be heavy.
Connecticut is finally receiving attention from presidential candidates who are locked in tight races for the highest office in the country, like Republicans John Kasich and Trump. Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have spent $765,000 and $250,000, respectively, on advertising in the state.
The Connecticut Republican and Democratic primaries are scheduled for April 26. Trump is seeking the 28 delegates Connecticut has to offer, needing to reach the 1,237 delegate threshold to avoid what pundits think could be a circus at the Republican convention, such as an open convention.
Joe Visconti, a Trump supporter, former Connecticut Independent gubernatorial candidate and construction manager, is looking forward to the rally.
“It’ll be mobbed. It’s good for Connecticut. It’ll be a great litmus test for the Northeast,” Visconti said. “He’s not a racist or a bigot, he’s a New Yorker. He talks straight out. He talks the truth. It may be hard, but it’s the reality that people are suffering economically.”
A poll that come out this week from Emerson College found that Trump is expected to win the Connecticut primary, with 50 percent of the vote to Kasich’s 26 percent and Ted Cruz’s 17 percent.
The same poll predicted a close Connecticut race between Sanders and Clinton. While Clinton leads Sanders 49 percent to 43 percent, if Independent Sanders supporters register Democrat as they’re expected to, the gap narrows to one percent.
On Wednesday, Connecticut Democrats responded to Trump’s plans to visit Connecticut.
"Donald Trump has run a campaign based on hatred and division. He has lied and insulted his way to the top of the Republican field. Trump's message may sit well with Chairman J.R. Romano and the base of Connecticut's Republican Party, but it will not sit well with Connecticut's women — who he has promised to punish if they seek an abortion, or with immigrants — who he has called rapists and murderers, or with Connecticut's Muslims — who he has promised to ban from entering the country," the statement read.