Crowds gather as Trump opens campaign HQ in New Jersey
EDISON — At least 100 people waited in misty rain and cool temperatures for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign office opening in New Jersey.
The opening of the headquarters in a suburban office park took place on Tuesday, just as the businessman's primary victory in Indiana was announced.
The crowd of supporters could be heard cheering from outside the event. Reporters were not allowed to enter. An event organizer declined to give an estimate of the crowd, but was later heard saying about 300 people were there.
Trump was not present and there were no protests.
Lori and David Hankle, of Hamilton, made the 30-mile drive because they're hopeful Trump can deliver on his promise to boost American trade and jobs.
"I believe in everything he talks about," said Lori Hankle, who works at an insurance agency. Added David Hankle, who works as a plumber and is in a union: "I would like to see America be proud."
Patricia Thomas, 69, also of Hamilton, said she is backing Trump because of his reputation as a business leader.
"I think he's a very strong man. I think that's what our country needs," Thomas said.
New Jersey's primary is June 7, and Trump leads by nearly 30 points in the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has endorsed Trump and campaigned with him in other states, said Monday he would not attend the opening of the New Jersey headquarters.
Supporters who attended the free event received Trump yard signs and T-shirts that read "Trump: Make America Great Again."
Trump is at the center of a billboard and mobile ad campaign in New Jersey by a group whose leader has ties to the Democratic party. The ads call on Christie to denounce Trump as a racist and sexist.
Trump backers at the event dismissed those attacks. Lori Hankle said most women she knows are backing Trump.
Charles Lobaito, a retail manager from Old Bridge, said he didn't take seriously Trump's comment that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would get only a fraction of the support she had if she were a man.
"I think it's for optics, all for entertainment purposes," he said.
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