Trump gets warm welcome at veterans biker rally
WASHINGTON DC: White House hopeful Donald Trump received a warm welcome Sunday as he addressed a motorcycle rally that attracted many military veterans to the US capital Sunday.
“I will protect every bit of the Second Amendment” right to bear arms, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told several thousand people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, traditionally a favored spot for major political demonstrations in Washington.
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“We have to rebuild our military” and “we are going to take care of our veterans” the billionaire said in a brief speech as the crowd — consisting of leather-clad bikers, tourists and other spectators — cheered him on.
Trump asked during his address why other countries, nodding at Japan, aren’t asked to pay “100 percent” of the cost of deploying US troops to overseas bases.
“Because we are stupid,” responded a voice in the crowd.
Veterans and supporters listen to Republican presedential candidate Donald Trump speak during an event at the annual Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” parade ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, DC, on May 29, 2016. AFP PHOTO
The Rolling Thunder rally is an annual event that sees thousands of bikers — many of them former service members — roar into Washington.
Jack Bellamy, a 41-year-old veteran and biker from northern Virginia, was thrilled that Trump addressed the rally.
“The other candidates, they don’t want to do anything for the vets,” he said.
“We want to get rid of politicians” who “don’t listen to people” and “put someone else in power,” he added.
Bellamy lamented that things were not going well in the United States, pointing to federal government guidelines telling public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice as an example.
A group of states is now suing over the move.
“The whole bathroom issue … they tried to shovel it down our throats,” Bellamy said. “A man is a man, a woman is a woman.”
First started in 1988, Rolling Thunder draws bikers from around the country to Washington on the Memorial Day holiday weekend honoring the nation’s war dead.
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Some 300,000 were expected for this year’s event, according to the Pentagon, which on Sunday morning hosted the start of a flag-filled parade through the streets of downtown Washington.
Only a portion of the bikers were present for Trump’s speech.
Trump promised that next year, the bikers would have an easier time accessing the area.