Looks as though The Donald cannot make a Philadelphia appearance without attracting a crowd of people who say they despise him and everything he stands for.
A visit by the Republican presidential candidate to the historic Union League Club for a speech Wednesday brought out hundreds of anti-Trump protesters, along with curiosity-seekers, spectators and a few campaign merch vendors.
“Boo Union League! Abe would be ashamed!” chanted protesters carrying an American flag, in reference to the Union League’s historic origins as a network of northeastern clubs for wealthy businessman who supported the Union and president Abraham Lincoln during the tumult of the Civil War.
“Any time and every time he comes in here we’re gonna shut his ass down,” said Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif at the protest. “He’s a racist, this man has issues with women, issues with the gay community … when you have that type of hate, he’s a modern day Hitler, so we cannot allow this man to be president.”
However, the usually off-the-cuff and unpredictable Trump was calm and even tempered as he outlined his views on national security during his speech at the Union League club, while criticizing Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as “trigger-happy.”
“Unlike my opponent, my foreign policy will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction,” Trump said. “Sometimes it seemed like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East that Hillary didn’t want to invade, intervene in or topple. She’s trigger-happy and very unstable.”
While Trump has at various times proclaimed that the U.S. should not allow Muslims in, vowed to defeat ISIS in 30 days after taking the presidency, and said he thinks torture should be allowed, he struck a pacifist note in his Philly speech, bemoaning a recent report that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have cost the U.S. a total of $6 trillion.
“We could’ve rebuilt our country over and over again,” he said.
The change in tone may be an attempt by Trump to regain some of his rapidly dissipating momentum as he fades in the polls behind Clinton. Pennsylvania, once a battleground state tightly split between the two candidates, now favors Clinton by at least nine points, polls show.
While the crowd of roughly 200 outside was mostly anti-Trump, a few Trump supporters did come out to show their support, including Michael Laurence, 63, a contractor from South Philly with a sign reading “Trump speaks for hard workers U-S-A.”
“That’s why I’m out here, because most people here are against him,” he said.
Laurence said he thinks Trump could help the economy, pointing out that the taxes due on his company’s payroll alone would be enough to double the staff.
“There’s a lot of us supporters, but we’re the working class, we’re hard workers. That’s why we can’t get out here.”