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A new WBUR poll shows Donald Trump still in the lead among likely New Hampshire presidential primary voters with 27 percent support — that's up from 22 percent last month.
The poll was taken at the same time Trump announced his controversial plan to temporarily block Muslims from entering the U.S.
On the campaign trail, Trump is sticking to that plan despite the firestorm that has developed since.
A Divisive Issue
Trump's campaign events have a bit of a circus atmosphere and these days, it includes a circus of protest.
Before he arrived at an event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Thursday night, at least 200 demonstrators, backed by a brass band, gathered with signs that read, "We welcome refugees," and "No hate, no fear and no Trump."
Among them was the Rev. Dr. Mary Westfall, pastor of the Community Church in Durham, who condemns Trump's call to block Muslims from entering the U.S.
"It's not even political rhetoric, it is hate speech and I think that for the Muslims in our state, we know that they are more at risk now than they were days ago and that is appalling," Westfall said. "And I think Mr. Trump and others who offer such hate speech need to be called out for that because it is not a trivial thing and it brings real harm and real damage to individuals, to human beings who deserve better. They're our neighbors, they're our friends."
Across the street was a much smaller group of Trump supporters, some of them from out of state.
John Bassett is a veteran from southern Maine. He dressed in combat fatigues, and says Trump's proposal, controversial as it is, makes sense.
"We need to step back and take a pause. We're not properly vetting immigrants, particularly Muslims because Islamic extremists are the people that want to destroy us," he said. "And right now they're slipping through the cracks. We need to stop that. And the only way to do that is to stop immigration — I'd say all immigration — right now for a short period of time. ... I say all, absolutely."
A Police Union Endorsement
The announcer introduced Trump to cheers from the crowd: "Our candidate for the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!"
Trump came to accept the endorsement from the New England Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents some 5,000 cops and corrections officers. Trump called it the honor of his life, and promised that one of his first presidential acts would be to sign an executive order with them in mind.
"That anybody killing a policeman, a police woman, police officer — anybody killing a police officer: death penalty. It's going to happen, OK," he said to cheers. "We can't let this go."
Trump also made reference to his proposal to keep Muslims out of the country and the enormous controversy it sparked. But he made no apologies. In fact, Trump said, in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting rampage by an allegedly radicalized couple, more and more people are agreeing with him.
"All of sudden I'm watching the shows this morning, and I'm watching the shows tonight, 'Well, you know, Trump has a point'. The visa system is not working. This woman came in on a marriage visa and she was totally radicalized. And she came in," Trump said. "We just can't afford anymore to be so politically correct."
Jerry Flynn, the executive director of the police union, explained why it endorsed Trump. Among the reasons, he was the only candidate who came.
"And we invited every candidate to come to our forum, every candidate. Donald Trump was the only one who showed up," Flynn said. "What he said tonight — he will sign an executive order on his first day in office for the death penalty for the killing of a police officer or correction officer in the line of duty — that speaks volumes and that's what our members wanted to hear."
Asked if the union leadership was at all concerned by Trump's proposal to bar Muslims form the U.S., Flynn said he didn't want to get into that.
Given the controversy Trump sparked this week, this may have been the most hyped appearance of the campaign so far. But it turned out to be one of the shortest. Trump spoke for less than 10 minutes and then left.
This segment aired on December 11, 2015.
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