PHOENIX — Donald Trump’s much-anticipated immigration speech Wednesday drew calmer protests than his previous visits to Phoenix. But it brought out new politicians to his stage, namely Gov. Doug Ducey.
A large police presence surrounded the 300 protesters outside the downtown Phoenix rally as they waved signs, smashed a Trump piñata, performed traditional indigenous dances and inflated large caricatures of Trump and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It was largely peaceful and not as raucous as protests that greeted previous visits by the Republican presidential nominee.
Ducey kicked off the rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in what marked the first time he has appeared at any of Trump’s events in Arizona.
Ducey said in his address to the packed convention center crowd that his No. 1 concern is ensuring that Democrat Hillary Clinton can’t appoint a liberal judge to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He said Trump’s choice will ensure state’s rights will be upheld as he called for tougher border security.
“It’s time for national security. It’s time for border security. It’s time for a change. It’s time for victory,” he said to cheers.
Arpaio also spoke at the event, as he has done at every Trump visit to Arizona, one day after he easily won the Republican primary in his bid for a seventh term. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu also appeared at the rally as he runs for a congressional seat in Arizona.
A notable no-show at the Trump rally was Sen. John McCain, who also won a primary Tuesday. He said he skipped the speech to take the day off with his wife at their home near Sedona. Trump and McCain have been locked in a bitter war of words over issues like national defense and McCain’s military record.
McCain has said he supports his party’s nominee. But he hasn’t appeared with Trump during the GOP presidential nominee’s four Arizona visits over the last year.
Prior rallies have drawn tense protests and even arrests. Anti-Trump protesters shut a major road down before a Trump rally in Fountain Hills in March.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other Democratic leaders held a news conference denouncing Trump and his policies. Stanton said he couldn’t say how many Phoenix officers would work the event, but he said he was confident they would keep the peace.