Protests Continue At Trump Rallies Ahead Of Tuesday Primaries
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to begin again today with politics. Donald Trump continues to encounter protesters at his rallies ahead of Tuesday's big primaries. His Republican opponents see those contests in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri as their big chance to keep Donald Trump from getting the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Boca Raton, Fla., where Trump is holding a rally this evening. Hi, Sarah.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Hello.
MARTIN: So it's been an intense couple of days on the Trump campaign. I know that you were at a rally with some pretty strong protests in Missouri last night. What's it been like?
MCCAMMON: Yeah. Well, there were protesters both inside and outside the venue in downtown Kansas City, Mo., where Trump held a rally, and mostly peaceful - there were a couple of arrests - but once the rally got going inside, there were almost constant disruptions for the first 20 minutes or so, and more after that. You know, people standing up, holding signs opposing Trump, chanting, some booing, and then of course the crowd would respond. Trump seemed angry and kept taunting the protesters, yelling get them out or go home to mommy, things he often says to protesters at these rallies. He did tell his supporters not to hurt anyone, said he doesn't condone violence. But then, Michel, as you point out, this morning on NBC's "Meet The Press" Trump said he is considering paying the legal fees of a man who is charged with punching a protester at another rally in North Carolina a few days ago. Now a reminder, that man was quoted as saying that next time, we might have to kill the protester. There have been some more protests today, nothing as dramatic as that though. And Trump's opponents are criticizing him hard for this, saying he is responsible for the atmosphere he creates at his rallies.
MARTIN: So what does Donald Trump say to that, that he has created this environment?
MCCAMMON: Well, he says it's not his fault, it's the protesters. Last night, he expressed a kind of bewilderment at why people think that his supporters are violent. He says we're peaceful. We just want to make America great again. It's the protesters that are the problem.
MARTIN: So how do things look for Trump heading into Tuesday's contests?
MCCAMMON: It's hard to say how he'll be affected by the events of this weekend. We're certainly seeing strong support at his rallies, but of course a lot of protests, too. He's up against John Kasich in Ohio, which is a winner-take-all state that votes on Tuesday, and Gov. Kasich seems to be gaining some steam, maybe pulling ahead in some polls. The biggest prize, though, on Tuesday is Florida. That is the home state of Marco Rubio, who's been campaigning here all weekend. Polls do continue to suggest that Trump is ahead by about 20 points.
MARTIN: But besides those big winner-take-all primaries in Ohio and Florida, do Trump's opponents think that they can make headway anywhere else?
MCCAMMON: Well, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been campaigning in Florida and Ohio, but he is focusing a lot of time on other states that vote Tuesday - Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina. And he has been pointing out that he has the second-highest number of delegates and making it the case to voters who might be uncomfortable with Trump that he's the only one who can beat Trump.
MARTIN: That's NPR's Sarah McCammon on the campaign trail in Boca Raton, Fla. Sarah, thank you.
MCCAMMON: Thank you, Michel.
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