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Trump holds Arizona rally after protesters block road

Many protesters carried signs saying “Stand against racism.” They also chanted “Get this clown out of our town.” The demonstrators dissipated before any arrests were made, said Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. Ann FitzGerald.

Thousands of miles away in New York City, hundreds of protesters gathered near Trump Tower in Columbus Circle on Saturday to march toward the Fifth Avenue skyscraper the billionaire businessman owns and lives in, local media reported. MSNBC reported three demonstrators were arrested as the crowd tried to push into the streets of the bustling city.

The public crescendo against Trump has been on the rise at recent events. On Friday night, demonstrators clashed with police and supporters outside a Trump rally in Salt Lake City. Last week, the Republican front-runner canceled a rally over security concerns after protesters and supporters clashed at the University of Illinois at Chicago ahead of the planned event.

Trump was at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix on Saturday morning to tape an interview with Fox News personality Sean Hannity of Tuesday’s presidential primary in the state. Trump’s planned travel route from Phoenix to Fountain Hills was not known, but law enforcement was still blocking Shea Boulevard even though the protesters had left.

Speaking to MSNBC by phone, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was with Trump in downtown Phoenix, said he anticipated no problems reaching the site of the rally.

Many of those waiting to hear Trump said his blunt, sometimes offensive, talk is a big part of his appeal.

“I like that he’s blunt, that there’s no political correctness with him, that he says what he means,” said Tracy Walter, 45, a receptionist from Fountain Hills. She said she likes Trump’s political-outsider status and she wanted to be a part of this “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

“If he hurts somebody’s feelings, well, you can’t be like that every day. And I like his views on immigration,” she said.

Trump has maintained a comfortable lead in the Arizona polls over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the second-running Republican in the race, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Robert Kaiser, 67, a snowbird who lives in Mesa when he’s not in North Dakota, was among those waiting to hear Trump on Saturday. He sported a “Donald Trump President 2016 shirt” that reads: “Fire the Idiots, Help the Vets.” A pin on his shirt read: “Bomb the hell out of ISIS.”

“I like his shoot-from-the-hip attitude and I think he’s going to be a lot stronger for our military,” Kaiser said. “He’s not going to be as easy on terrorists as our current administration. I just feel like at this point in time, we need somebody like him in the White House.”

Dede Nay, a retired teacher, traveled to Fountain Hills from Pinetop to hear Trump.

“There’s a lot of bad things that are going on in the government – corruption. And I pray he makes it to the end, but if he doesn’t I think the one good thing that he has done is expose the corruption that’s not only rampant in the Democratic Party, but it’s also in the Republican Party,” she said. “We keep electing … Republicans in, and nothing’s been done. They have betrayed us.”

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