At the O.C. Register:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump brought his rousing message of political indignation to a full house at Costa Mesa’s 8,000-seat Pacific Amphitheatre on Thursday and was celebrated by the vocal crowd for providing an alternative to the status quo.More.
Within minutes of taking the stage to kick off his California campaign, Trump had the crowd on its feet chanting, “Build that wall.”
“Your crime numbers, they’re going through the roof, and we can’t have it anymore,” Trump told the packed venue at the OC Fair & Event Center. “We’re going to get our country back to a balance.”
Outside, sheriff’s deputies on horseback and in riot gear had to separate pro- and anti-Trump groups who shouted profanities at each other and nearly came to blows, with one side chanting “Dump Trump” as the other shouted, “Go back to Mexico.” After the rally ended, demonstrators jumped on a Costa Mesa police car, breaking out the windows and attempting to turn it over, as hundreds of people blocked the streets.
The tensions may be an early sign of what’s ahead for California in the weeks leading up to the June 7 primary, as Trump shifts his attention to the state that could prove the most crucial yet in his drive to be the Republican standard bearer.
“No state has suffered more from open borders than the state of California,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump’s choice of Orange County for his first major California event of the year is no surprise. While the county’s increasing ethnic diversity has contributed to Republican voter registration recently slipping below 40 percent, the GOP still has an 8-point advantage over Democrats, and the county continues its longstanding national reputation as a Republican powerhouse.
The county’s many wealthy donors also make it a national fundraising hub for GOP candidates.
Hours before the rally began, large crowds of flag-waving supporters and scattered sign-carrying protesters gathered at the fairgrounds.
Dawn Mayo stood on a concrete planter box in front of the fairgrounds’ Pacific Amphitheatre, surrounded by Trump supporters. She waved a blue “Make America great again” hat in her hand as she tried to lead the crowd in a “Go Trump!” chant that quickly died out.
“I’ll get them excited. Give me time,” said Mayo, 49, who grew up in New York and drove from San Diego on Thursday afternoon to attend the rally. “I love Trump. I want the energy to be up and people to be as excited as I am.”
A first clash came around 4:30 p.m.