FOUNTAIN HILLS – Free tickets to see Donald Trump in Fountain Hills on March 19 sold out within hours of announcing the event only two days earlier.
Although the hastily put together rally was supposed to start at 10 a.m., it was subsequently bumped to 11 a.m. after Trump agreed to do a town hall meeting with talk show host Sean Hannity at the Phoenix Convention Center from 9 to 10 a.m.
It didn’t seem to matter much to the thousands that turned out to see Trump – patiently waiting in the scorching heat.
The couple at the very front of the line, which by 8 a.m. wrapped around the park for about two miles or more, said they arrived at 3 a.m.
Just about all the people Sonoran News spoke with said they had already cast their ballots for Trump weeks ago by mail and were simply there to show their support for him.
Taking advantage of the huge crowds Trump draws, people were collecting petition signatures for Dr. Kelli Ward, who is expected to defeat Sen. John McCain in the upcoming primary election.
Law enforcement was thick at the event with Secret Service personnel as well as every imaginable unit of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, including SWAT, K-9, Equestrian, Lake Patrol and Helicopter.
There were deputies on rooftops, patrolling on horses and on quads.
Other than protestors causing traffic to back up for miles when they blocked Shea Boulevard with vehicles, attempting to keep people and Trump from getting to the rally, there was only a small number of anti-Trump protestors at the rally itself.
Despite Trump electrifying thousands with his briefer than usual speech on Saturday, the mainstream media appeared focused almost entirely on the protestors.
Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his immigration stance and said he would close our borders to certain people until we can sort out what’s going on.
He said we need to be “very, very vigilant with who we let into this country,” noting the current administration is letting people in without knowing who they are, where they come from and without real documentation.
He lamented about the decline of both Brussels, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and Paris, known as the city of lights, and said they have become “cities in fear.”
With 90 percent of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, Trump took Arizona, a winner-take-all delegate state, by storm with 47 percent (249,842) of the vote, followed by Ted Cruz with 25 percent (133,479).
Early voting resulted in Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race, receiving 13 percent of the vote, ahead of John Kasich, who received only 10 percent.
Because early voting has become so popular in Arizona, polling places were consolidated from over 200 to only 60, resulting in long lines and three-hour waits at some locations.
However, rallies seemed to have invigorated voters, creating a higher than average turnout, with Yavapai County having the highest turnout at 63 percent, Apache County the lowest at 27 percent and Maricopa County at 43 percent.
Hillary Clinton also won in Arizona with 58 percent (235,647) of the vote against Bernie Sanders who received 40 percent (163,410).
Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election is a closed election open only to affiliated party members, whereas the primary election on Aug. 30, 2016 is open to the unaffiliated, or Independents, who may vote by requesting either a Republican or Democrat ballot.