Last night Presidential Candidate Donald Trump came to Portsmouth for a few minutes, to pick up an endorsement from the New England’s police union.
The New England Police Benevolent Association announced their endorsement, Trump stood by his proposal to block Muslims from the country. Then he told the small room of law enforcement officers what one of his first executive orders would be if he’s elected:
"That anybody killing a policeman, police woman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer, death penalty.
But hours before Trump rolled in, protesters were lining up along Russell Street. Three hundred or so people hold up signs with messages like "Love Trumps Hate," "We Welcome Refugees"—signs that compare Trump to Adolph Hitler, signs with words written in light.
Mike Verney’s gone over to the small group of Trump supporters at one edge of the crowd. His sign reads, "We support our Muslim countrymen."
"I’m proselytizing but I’m also genuinely interested in why they support Trump," he says.
Just a few feet away, a Trump campaign-owned white pick up truck parked here on the street gets its alarm triggered from folks crowded so close to it. The alarm is Trump’s campaign song, Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take it” on loop. Mike Verney keeps standing there.
"Trump to me is expressing some of the worst elements of a nativist bigoted background that has no place in this country in the 21st century."
That Twisted Sister car alarm goes on for at least another hour. Protesters do too. Stephen Stepanek, a state representative and Trump campaign co-chair, keeps his distance at the top of the hotel driveway.
"This is Portsmouth. This is the San Francisco of New Hampshire. That’s what these people do, doesn’t matter who it is. They come out and protest."
This event tonight’s unusual for a Trump visit, because it’s not open to the public—just members of the union. The few supporters who did decide to show up--even though they won't be going in--huddle up as they get word that Trump will be arriving soon.
"He’s gonna make America great again, you know that?"
One of them is Steve Lozinak. He’s a fisherman from Newbury Massachusetts, about to turn 69 years old. He says he hasn’t been this excited about a candidate since John F. Kennedy.
"He was real just as Donald is real."
I ask Lozinak what his feelings are about the pushback Trump is getting from people around the world—including across the street.
That sparks five people saying, all at once, "it's the media."
Mark Croteau walks over to listen. He wears a ten commandments t shirt and leans the Trump campaign issued sign he’s been holding against the brick wall.
"I’m not…I don’t consider myself...I don’t know, I’m kind of neutral."
Croteau does some trucking, some construction around Boston. He says he got off early tonight and decided to check Trump out—he says he’s not sure about anyone yet.
"I heard the other day that he didn’t mind being compared to Hitler...I thought that was really bizarre."
Right then, the fleet of black SUVs pulls up. In a flash, Trump gets out, gives a wave, takes three steps into the building. Croteau and the other supporters stand there, savoring the moment they’ve been waiting for all night.