Trump talks immigration at Akron campaign rally

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio, on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.

Alex Delaney-Gesing

Dozens of street vendors lined the streets outside The University of Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena Monday evening in anticipation of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s first appearance in the Akron metropolitan area.

From red “Make America Great Again” hats to blue and white T-shirts sporting slogans such as “Hillary For Prison” and “Vote Trump,” vendors were out in full force as crowds gathered to enter the arena for the scheduled 7 p.m. rally.

Monday’s event marked Trump’s second recent appearance in Northeast Ohio.

He made a foreign policy address last week during an invitation-only event at Youngstown State University, where he proposed his plans to halt immigration from dangerous areas around the world.Trump talk 

In the Ohio primary back in March, Trump lost Summit County to Gov. John Kasich, with 51 percent of Republican voters backing the home state governor.

On a national level, recent poll trends put Trump at a disadvantage behind his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

CBS New/YouGov poll released Sunday shows the latest numbers from Ohio’s likely voters: Clinton holds a 6-point lead, with 46 percent, while Trump trails behind, at 40 percent.

Clinton’s lead in polling isn’t anything new, though. Since the Democratic National Convention, polls and surveys put her consistently ahead of her Republican rival.

A battleground map released by NBC News last week reflects the current of state of play in this year’s election based on past results, public polling and analysis. It shows Clinton with 288 electoral votes—18 more than the required 270 needed to win the oval office. In contrast, Trump is shown to hold 174 electoral votes.

Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, is among the five battleground states on the map fitting into the ‘toss-up’ category.

During Monday night’s rally, Trump touched on his plans to repair the dangerous “inner cities run by Democrats,” investigate corruption within The Clinton Foundation, and fight for minorities in the country.

Referring to an increase in crime around the country, Trump compared the nation’s cities to war zones overseas.

“You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting, and it is safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats,” Trump said. “We’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”

He pledged that, as president, he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the financial activity of The Clinton Foundation.

The Department of Justice—who “can’t be trusted”—he said, had “acted unethically” in undergoing the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

In an attempt to garner support from the African-American population in the country, Trump repeated the statement he has been making the last few days: “What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance.”

He went on to mention the Hispanic population, saying that the government has “totally failed our African-Americans, Hispanic friends.”

Trump also reiterated his intention to build a wall along the Mexican border—a plan he has repeated over the course of his campaign.

“We’re going to build a wall,” he said. “That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin.”

The proposed wall has been a continuing topic of controversy among both Trump supporters and his opposition. Among those supporters is Bob Kunst, a 74-year-old native of Miami Beach, Florida.

Seated outside the arena Monday night with a Clinton mask covering his face and head, Kunst held a sign with the message “Trump versus Tramp” written in bold black sharpie.

He said he is in favor of the proposed immigration wall, but resents that Trump seems to only be focusing on one area of the border and security issues in the country.

While Kunst supports Trump now, he said he won’t rule out the possibility of turning against the candidate later.

“I have to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll do something to make this country less weak,” Kunst said. “And if he fails, well then I’ll just have to go out and protest him too.”

Voting for Clinton would only lead to a continuation of what the country has been going through for the last eight years, he said.

“I don’t see any future with Hillary,” Kunst said. “It’s a gambling thing. I don’t know if he’s going to do any of what he says he will. On the other hand, what have I got to lose?”

Nearby, masked members of Anonymous Akron and students from the Akron Ohio Student Association peacefully protested before, during and after the rally.

Sarah Yusufi, a sophomore political science major at UA, represented the university’s student group.

Originally a Bernie Sanders supporter, she said Clinton is the best option at this point in the election season.

“Her rhetoric is completely different than Trump’s,” she said. “And at the end of the day, she’s the Democratic candidate. Even though she may not be as far left and progressive as I’d like her to be, she’s as good as we’re going to get.”

Inside the arena, a crowd of more than 5,000 listened in on Trump’s speech.

Paulette Phillips, a registered Democrat from Louisville, Ohio, said attending a political event has been on her bucket list.

Though initially a Sanders supporter, she has since chosen to support Trump because “he’s our next best bet.”

“He wants to bring jobs to the country—especially the state—and he’s not owned by anybody,” she said. “He’s his own man. He’s not a politician, which is refreshing.”

Though Phillips doesn’t think Trump’s proposed wall will actually get built, she does believe the country needs to have more secure borders.

“Immigrants shouldn’t be allowed in without being properly vetted,” she said. “Although, it wouldn’t necessarily bother me if a wall went up, too.”

David Wiley of Wadsworth echoed Phillips’ viewing.

Wiley isn’t completely “on board” with halting immigration altogether but does think immigrants need to be properly vetted before coming over.

He is certain of Trump’s ability to make good decisions for the sake of the country, he said.

“Trump’s a businessman, so he’s had to think for himself. Sometimes he opens his mouth too much, but he always comes back with good answers,” said Wiley, a 73-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War. “These politicians today are more worried about what’s best for their parties instead of what’s best for this country. And Trump’s not a politician, which is why he’s got my vote.

Contact Alex Delaney-Gesing at [email protected]