Trump: 'Eugene ... what a great place'

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Monday, May 2, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Protesters in this liberal university town shouted "Dump Trump" and argued with supporters of the billionaire businessman as the likely Republican presidential nominee brought his divisive, but popular, campaign to an Oregon rally Friday.

Demonstrators were kept at a distance from Lane Event Center, where Donald Trump took the stage, telling thousands in the audience: "Eugene ... what a great place."

VIDEO | Full video of Donald Trump's speech at rally in Eugene

Outside, Trump opponents banged drums and carried signs that said things like "Trump Hates Women" and "Be American, Not Partisan." Trump supporters shouted back: "This Is Our Country!"

Few problems had emerged, but Oregon State Police and other officials were on hand in case of trouble. Those attending the rally had to go through metal detectors before they were allowed inside.

PHOTOS | Donald Trump holds rally in Eugene

Among the Trump fans was 50-year-old Ken Kraft, an Army veteran who drove about 100 miles to Eugene from Oregon City. Kraft was wearing a signature Trump red baseball cap, emblazoned with the words "Make America Great Again."

"I like what he's saying," Kraft said. "I like what he's doing. Make America Great Again. Pay back our debt. Secure our borders."

Alma Murphy, a Eugene resident, said she was supporting the New York businessman because "he's going to change things, and we need it."

The home of the University of Oregon and a city known for its liberalism, Eugene is hardly a good fit for the real estate mogul. But Trump made it clear at the rally that he was reaching out to Republican rural Oregon, parts of which are struggling economically.

"Timber is a crucial industry" in parts of the state but "it is being hammered by federal regulations," he told his supporters.

Trump also talked about an increase in the number of Oregonians on food stamps.

Now that his foes have dropped out of the GOP race, he does not need to worry too much about how he does in Oregon's May 17 primary. Nonetheless, he urged Oregonians to vote.

As the crowd streamed out of the Lane Events Convention Center into the parking lot, many wore grins on their faces and were obviously pumped up by the performance by Donald Trump at Friday's rally.

Meanwhile protesters shouted "Down With Trump!" as people exited the Eugene, Oregon, event.

Forty-six year-old Chris Fischer of Salem, Oregon, said of Trump's speech: "It was awesome...You see it on TV and then you see it in person. The energy alone!"

Fischer said he'd always been impressed with Trump's business strategies of using banks' and other people's money to make money.

Colby Brooks, a Eugene high school student, said he was wowed by the speech by the GOP front runner, but lamented that at age 16 he's not old enough to vote yet.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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