CHICAGO (AP) — Republican Donald Trump’s plans to promote his presidential candidacy at a Chicago rally ahead of the Illinois primary ended in chaos Friday after he canceled the event, citing safety concerns.
As Trump supporters walked through the anti-Trump crowd outside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion, many protesters chanted: “We stopped Trump! We stopped Trump!”
“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.
Derrick Serianni, 42, said he drove for two hours from Chesterton, Indiana, to hear Trump speak. He said as he left the arena, he walked a gauntlet of protesters who yelled obscenities at him and called him a racist, but didn’t touch him. He called them “very intimidating,” adding that he “had a right to hear Trump speak.”
One protester said she had little sympathy for the complaints of the Trump supporters.
“If you are going to support a divisive candidate, you’re opening yourself up to that kind of thing,” Karie Otteburn, 28, of Chicago.
Trump wasn’t the only presidential hopeful in Chicago on Friday.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was addressing a closed-door, big-dollar Illinois Republican Party fundraiser at a Chicago hotel and a GOP dinner in Rolling Meadows.
Before speaking to the suburban Chicago crowd, Cruz said the events at the Trump rally made it a “sad day.”
“Political discourse should occur in this country without the threat of violence, without anger and rage and hatred directed at each other,” he said, adding the events in downtown Chicago in part rested with the protesters. “When the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that is escalates. Today is unlikely to be the last such incidence.”
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally in the Chicago suburb of Summit, saying a high turnout in the Illinois primary next week will help him like it did in Michigan.
He referenced local issues, blasting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, for closing dozens of city schools in 2013 over low enrollment and poor performance.
“I want to thank Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing me,” he told the cheering crowd.
Sanders also touched on familiar campaign themes calling for criminal justice and campaign finance reforms.
The Vermont senator released three new TV ads in Illinois on Friday, including one that features Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who introduced Sanders and forced Chicago Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election for a second term last year. In another, Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere, a frequent critic of Emanuel, says the mayor is to blame for the city’s problems and that any candidate who backs him is “not willing to take on the establishment.”
It’s a clear swipe at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who has strong ties to Emanuel. The mayor has faced calls to resign since the city delayed releasing dash-cam video of a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times. Emanuel served as a top adviser in President Bill Clinton’s White House, and he has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Holding a get-out-the-vote rally Thursday night in the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills, Clinton aimed most of her criticism at the Republican candidates, saying they’re overly pessimistic and more focused on rhetoric than policy. The former secretary of state said people around the world “watch us so closely.”
Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, told a crowd in Peoria on Friday that voters supporting her will be “electing the best single change agent I have ever known.”
Illinois Republicans will award 69 delegates in Tuesday’s primary, with the winner of the statewide preference poll getting 15 delegates and the remaining elected from each congressional district.
On the Democratic side, Illinois awards 182 delegates, including 102 awarded proportionately within each congressional district, provided a candidate gets at least 15 percent of the vote.
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