BURLINGTON, VERMONT —
Protesters repeatedly disrupted a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Vermont on Thursday evening, despite attempts by Trump's staff to screen the crowd.
Rally-goers with tickets in hand were asked as they entered whether they supported Trump. Those who said they didn't were promptly escorted out of the building.
“It's not what I expected,” said Adam Linnebur, who is supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders but noted that nothing on his ticket said he had to support Trump. He was turned away.
Trump defended the decision.
“We have more than 20,000 people that showed up for 1,400 spots. I'm taking care of my people, not people who don't want to vote for me or are undecided,” he said in a statement released by his campaign.
The event was nonetheless interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who were escorted out of the theater. Vermont is a staunchly Democratic state and the place where Sanders, a Vermont senator, got his political start.
At first, Trump seemed to embrace the disruptions. “Isn't this more exciting?” he asked.
Later, he suggested that security staffers confiscate protesters' coats, noting that it was below freezing outside. Then his patience appeared to wear thin, and he suggested that security officers were afraid to respond with force.
“This is why we're losing control of our country. This is why. We lose control of our country `cause everybody's afraid to do anything,” he said.
Trump's rally was scheduled for the same time as President Barack Obama's televised town hall on gun violence in America. While Trump often vows to eliminate gun-free zones if he's elected, he expanded his pledge Thursday to include schools.