LOWELL — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump delivered a raucous speech for thousands Monday that was interrupted several times by protesters, who were later escorted from the building.
This was Trump’s fourth major political event in Massachusetts this year. The Bay State holds its presidential primary on March 1, three weeks after the New Hampshire primary.
After Trump announced his visit to the Paul E. Tsongas Center, groups quickly began to organize protests of the event. Trump was interrupted during his speech at least seven times.
Many times the groups of protesters, spread throughout the audience, found their chants inaudible and shouted down by his supporters calling out, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” However one protester was heard yelling “Bernie Sanders for president” and another group of a half dozen people yelled “Black Lives Matter.”
Outside the arena, a few hundred protesters stood in sub-freezing temperatures, including 15-year-old Anya Lamar Anderson of Westford. Standing with her sister and grandmother, she held a sign that read, “Humans Are Welcome. Hate Is Not.”
Trump said little that was new to his supporters in the nearly hour-long speech. Despite speaking less than 25 miles from where Bill Clinton stumped for his wife in Nashua, Trump did not advance his feud with the former president at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Trump also did not address President Barack Obama’s executive action issued Monday that would close the “gun show loophole.” Currently, many gun dealers with smaller business operations do not have to conduct background checks on their buyers.
Instead Trump directed his ire to fellow Republican candidate Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor.
“Isn’t it sad that he has spent $59 million and I have spent basically nothing,” Trump told the audience, noting his campaign has just purchased his first television ads. He also repeated attacked Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Trump also seemed to tailor his address to the local audience, invoking Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I love Tom Brady. I love him... we have to get him better,” Trump said. “Tom Brady injured is still better than anybody else.”
Trump also said that watching the bombs go off at the Boston Marathon in 2013 “was one of the saddest things I have ever seen.”
He also touched on the opioid epidemic in New England, noting that it was a “tremendous problem” especially in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.