Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump drew crowds of supporters and protesters to a rally aboard the battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro on Tuesday.
Trump’s “Make America’s Military Great Again,” speech on national defense and the state of veteran healthcare services received a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 200.
“The veterans hospitals – they have problems, obviously, they are not properly run,” Trump said. “We are going to take apart the whole system… and [veterans] are going to get the greatest service of any veteran in any country.”
Trump’s supporters at the San Pedro rally consisted of a large number of veterans. Trump also received support from Veterans for a Stronger America president and founder Joel Arends, who endorsed the candidate before his speech. The VSA both organized the gathering and sold tickets to the public to attend.
“Normally this organization does not endorse in the primaries… [but] 2016 is too important to not take a stand,” Arends said.
Local residents showed up in opposition to Trump’s presence in San Pedro, a historically diverse and working-class neighborhood of Los Angeles, taking issue with his remarks on immigration.
“It’s not right what Trump is doing to us and the whole community,” San Pedro resident Mona Lisa Rodriguez said. “He’s discriminating [against] Latinos.”
California State Senator Isadore Hall joined the protesters in attendance and held a speech of his own in front of the gate outside the USS Iowa.
“His remarks have already hurt our national security,” Hall said. “America’s armed forces are bolstered by 65,000 immigrants, many of whom are Latinos.”
Hall, who represents San Pedro residents in his district, pushed the crowd to support Senate Resolution 39, a resolution he introduced in response to Trump’s “outrageous and un-American remarks about Latinos families.”
Hall said that SR-39 would condemn Trump’s comments and call to divest in any economic relations with him.
Trump’s focus on national security and veteran care drew many of them to attend his speech in support.
“I think the situation at the [Veterans Affairs] Hospital in Long Beach isn’t as bad as some of the others, but it’s still not great,” Vietnam veteran and California State University, Long Beach Alumni Jim Hoover said. “It’s one of [Trump’s] hallmark items on his agenda.”
Other veterans in attendance at the rally took the opposite stance and protested against him.
CSULB alumni and Iraq War vet Jorge Maldonado held up a sign that read “comb over his draft card,” in response to accusations that Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.
“He’s completely out of touch with the needs and wants of regular Americans,” Maldonado said. “He’s got too much money to care about us.”
Don Conovan, another Vietnam veteran criticized Trump’s lack of participation in the Vietnam War.
“Eight times he was exempted from service during the Vietnam war,” Conovan said. “How dare he stand on that battleship, and now he wants to be our commander-in-chief.”
Trump ended his speech by calling his supporters the “new silent majority.”
“I don’t think we have to call it a silent majority anymore, because people are not silent,” Trump said. “They are disgusted by what happened to our country.”
Donald Trump will be debating other Republican presidential nominees at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, Wednesday night.