Donald Trump’s campaign rolled into Burlington, Vermont on Thursday evening. But the action began far earlier in the day, as demonstrators in the liberal enclave, where Bernie Sanders bases his campaign, worked to undermine the rally.
The first person in line for the rally arrived outside the Flynn Center at 4:30 a.m. — even though he was a Sanders supporters. This would become a theme.
1st in line Mark (Bernie) made friends w/ 2nd in line Martin (Trump). Mark here at 4:30, Martin here 8:30a. pic.twitter.com/YuYQaNMyLO— Noah Gray CNN (@NoahGrayCNN) January 7, 2016
A local sandwich shop, immediately next to the Flynn Center, offered up a special sandwich Thursday, “The Donald,’’ priced at $20.16. They sold zero.
The Trump campaign said they gave out 20,000 tickets for the event, for a venue that seats only 1,400, and expected 6,500 people to show up, according to police. Hours before the rally began, the line outside the Flynn Center stretched for blocks.
Line to get into Donald Trump's Burlington rally is at least three (chilly) blocks long: pic.twitter.com/0QLteQR1fg— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 7, 2016
Long line to get into Trump rally "like nothing I've ever seen in Burlington... Not for Phish, not on Free Cone Day," says one demonstrator.— Jess Bidgood (@jessbidgood) January 7, 2016
Not all were Trump supporters, however.
And, here in Bernie's backyard, demonstrators against Trump are scattered around the park near the theater: pic.twitter.com/bauauQ6stR— Jess Bidgood (@jessbidgood) January 7, 2016
Due to overticketing and fear of the rally being disrupted by protesters, the Trump campaign began screening those in line, only letting people enter the theater if they pledged support for the Republican candidate.
In Burlington, campaign staffers went through the line and asked: Do you support Donald Trump? Anyone who didn't say yes was not allowed in.— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 8, 2016
(And that included anyone who isn't sure if they support Trump yet, are just curious, etc.)— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 8, 2016
While Trump supporters were let into the Flynn Center, a large protest formed outside.
Inside the rally, Trump took the stage to a packed theater.
However, the screening process was not completely effective. Trump’s speech was repeatedly disrupted by protesters.
Trump staffers and crowd pointing out people they think are protestors. Like wearing a Scarlet Letter. “I didn’t do anything!” woman says.— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) January 8, 2016
Another disturbance at Donald Trump's rally in Burlington. Trump says he isn't surprised: "If we didn't have that, it wouldn't be Vermont."— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 8, 2016
Another group of protesters shed their jackets: Bernie shirts! They scream and walk out on their own. Police can’t keep up….— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) January 8, 2016
(It was 25 degrees in Burlington Thursday night, not “10 degrees below zero.’’)
As President Barack Obama was simultaneously holding a town hall on gun control, Trump pledged to eliminate gun-free zones on his first day in office.
“You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait,’’ he said.
Amid the rally and protests, there were still supporters outside hoping to get into the theater when the speech already half-way finished.
Probably a couple hundred people still in line as police say no one else can get in to a Trump rally. "This is soul crushing," says 15-yo.— Jess Bidgood (@jessbidgood) January 8, 2016
When it was all said and done, the leading Republican candidate wrapped up his more-than-an-hour-long speech a little after 8:30 p.m.
“We are going to make America great again,’’ he said. Watch the full event below: