Support and dissent at rally



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“’Oh, shut up, silly woman,’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,’” read GOP Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump from a piece of paper he was holding.

He was reciting lyrics from Al Wilson’s 1968 song, “The Snake” to a UNI crowd of 1,500 on Tuesday.

The recitation was an extended metaphor to characterize the current migration of Syrian refugees, especially what Trump said he sees happening with refugees living in Germany. The song tells the story of a “vicious snake” who persuades a woman to take him in and save his life. In the end, the snake bites and kills the woman.

“Does that make sense to everyone? We have no idea who we’re taking in and we better be careful,” Trump told the audience at the end of the recitation.

He claimed many of the refugees being taken in in parts are Europe are men and that there is an “unusual” lack of women and children.

The rest of Trump’s speech consisted of flaunting dominant poll numbers and criticizing current policies regarding national security, economics and immigration.

Tanner Strudthoff, freshman public administration and political science major, said he was undecided about who he would support among Republican presidential candidates, but he said he liked Trump’s plan for national security and to combat terrorism.

“To me, that’s the most important thing in this election — national security,” Strudthoff said. “The United States military is pretty small right now, and that scares me, honestly.”

While Trump drew supporters waiting in lines in the bitter cold hours prior to his speech, his visit also attracted some 30 protestors.

The protestors were predominantly UNI students, but there were faculty and Waterloo-Cedar Falls residents as well.

Most of the time, the group chanted, “bigots can’t be President” and held signs that bore the same phrase. Other signs read: “Fear breeds hate, Trump is a coward,” “Love always wins” and “Mein Trumph” to name a few.

Yena Balekyani, senior sociology and political science major, was one of the spokespeople for the group. She said she didn’t want to stand silently by while Trump continues to proliferate what she calls “bigoted speech.”

“We want people to know that the things that he says and does are not to be supported,” Yena said.

Logun Buckley, senior communication studies major, said Trump is “terrifying” and that he came out to protest what he called Trump’s “hateful rhetoric.”

“He’s finding the bad, the hateful, parts in people: ‘I hate Mexicans. I hate Muslims.’ He’s finding that in people and pushing it to the forefront as the biggest issue,” Buckley said.

He went on to say that Trump does this to detract from issues such as income inequality, which Buckley said people like Trump benefit from.

“I think his ideas are dangerous,” Balekyani said. “And his supporters are adding gasoline on the fire.”

Inside the event, a PA system instructed attendees not to hurt protestors, which elicited cheers and laughter.

Trump began his speech by referring to the breaking news of Iran taking over two U.S. boats and holding 10 American sailors in custody. He went on to say that this crisis serves as “an indication of where we’re going,” and that it is further proof for him that President Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal is “the dumbest deal” he’s ever seen.

Trump took a swipe at Jeb Bush for low polling numbers and for spending what Trump claimed to be $69 million on his campaign. He called this a “waste of money.”

Trump continued to tout his self-funded campaign. This resonated well with potential voters such as Waterloo resident Chris Cappussi, who said  he supported Trump largely because of “the fact that he doesn’t need to take money from anyone else.”

Trump also questioned GOP candidate Ted Cruz’s legitimacy to run for president, given his birth and prior citizenship in Canada. In addition, Trump threw jabs at Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, saying that Clinton “should probably be in prison” and that he “would love to run against a socialist” in Sanders.

While emphasizing the importance of rebuilding the U.S. military, Trump still asserted his prior opposition to invading Iraq.

“I said, ‘don’t go into Iraq’ and I’m the most militaristic person in this room,” Trump said of his stance to invading Iraq in 2003.

Trump emphasized what he claims to be trade deficits with China, as he did in a campaign stop in Waterloo in October. Trump also reiterated his intent to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that he would force Mexico to pay for.

Senior social science teaching major, Dan Kauble, was in attendance at the rally. He stated that he is not a Trump supporter and said that he would vote for any of the three Democratic Party frontrunners.

“I think this rally has the potential to say a lot about Iowa and our campus; because I think it’s going to be interesting to see how many students support Trump,” Kauble said. “I think that would be a good gauge as to the political and social forces that are working on campus.”