Max Thornberry and Troy Shinn also contributed to this report.
Claudia Pelayo and her daughter stood in their Mexican traditional dress in front of the Lane Events Center — site of Donald Trump’s rally today — with a sign that read, “This is our home.”
Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee this week when Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race. The New York businessman scheduled his rally in Eugene with over 3,000 in attendance.
With the Republican nomination all but clinched, one may have wondered if Trump’s speech may have changed with his solidified status. With a few exceptions, he stayed largely to his usual talking points: the border wall (which he assures Mexico will pay for), the dishonest media (which the crowd emphatically booed) and the fact that America doesn’t win anymore.
“Our country is being taken advantage of; we’re being killed in trade… we’re being killed at the border,” Trump said. “And we are going to build a wall, by the way.”
The biggest difference came in how directly he spoke out against his likely general election opponent Hillary Clinton, whom he attacked aggressively tonight for her character, her husband’s blunders as president and her friend — and possible running mate – Elizabeth Warren.
“Crooked Hillary has a goofy friend in Elizabeth Warren, she’s a goofus who has done nothing in the United States Senate,” Trump said. “I really do hope that I end up running against the both of them because I would love to beat them both.”
Trump also made an effort to align himself with Bernie Sanders’ perspectives on Clinton, which could be his attempt to attract a segment of the Vermont senator’s supporters who will vote against her in favor of an anti-establishment candidate.
“I’m no fan of Bernie Sanders,” Trump said, “but he is right when he says that Hillary is completely owned by Wall Street.”
The venue filled with cheers and applause with every point that Trump made. Meanwhile, Pelayo and hundreds of other protesters outside rallied against his campaign messages.
“I am so embarrassed and sad for our country that people are so mad they would buy into his rhetoric,” protestor Jabe Sawyer said.
Sawyer’s complaints were echoed throughout the evening as chants calling for Trump to go along with cries for justice, peace and love carried down 13th street outside the event center.
Mariana Paredones, co-chairwoman of the Oregon Students of Color Coalition, took the helm on the street, leading protesters with her megaphone and encouraging everyone in attendance to be respectful.
“This is an act of resistance,” Paredones told the crowd. “This is an act against racism.”
While protestors threw the banner term of “hateful rhetoric” around all evening, many took a clearer stance in terms of the controversial immigration policies that Trump has proposed. Mexican flags were flown and speeches from protesters emphasized the humanity of all people, documented or otherwise.
“Immigration reform is OK, but don’t tell us we are criminals,” protestor Jose Luis told the crowd. “I’m a father, not a criminal.”
Supporters and protesters lingered after the speech ended. There was yelling and chanting, and protesters continued to block the north driveway of the center. But there were no arrests or use of force at the rally.
Trump’s hour-long speech preceded the Oregon primary, which takes place on May 17.