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Thousands of Trump supporters rally in Newport Beach as president arrives for fundraiser

President Trump from Air Force One.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of American-flag-waving Trump supporters rallied in Newport Beach on Sunday as the president arrived for a fundraiser to bolster his reelection bid on Nov. 3.

Red MAGA hats were ubiquitous in the crowd, and masks were scant. The sound of country music mingled with shouts of, “Four more years!”

Trump supporters wave flags and signs while hoping to get a glimpse of the president's motorcade.
Trump supporters wave flags and signs while hoping to get a glimpse of the president’s motorcade when he heads to and from Lido Island for a fundraiser on October 18, 2020 in Newport Beach, California.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

The rally along Pacific Coast Highway and Newport Boulevard was raucous and confrontational at times.

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A man from Tustin in a Trump-themed cowboy hat taunted a female Los Angeles Times reporter for wearing a mask.

When the reporter thanked him for the interview and walked away, the man followed her for several minutes, yelling, “Fake news!” while tailing her closely and inviting others in the crowd to harass her.

 Biden supporter Richard Williams is grabbed and shoved by Trump supporters
Joe Biden supporter Richard Williams, 70, of Irvine is grabbed and shoved by Trump supporters as tried to hold his Biden-Harris sign amid a sea of Trump supporters who gathered on Via Lido to get a glimpse of the president’s motorcade while going to and from a Newport Beach fundraiser.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Shortly afterward, two counter-demonstrators holding a pride flag and a Biden sign were surrounded and heckled by dozens of Trump supporters who shouted, “Biden’s a pedophile!”

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Meanwhile, hundreds of Armenian Americans joined the demonstration, in a show of solidarity with Armenia in its battle with neighboring Azerbaijan over a small separatist region on the border of the former Soviet republics. They demanded that Trump take action against Turkey, which has expressed support for Azerbaijan.

“Armenia needs Trump!” a protester, his shoulders draped in the orange, red and blue Armenian flag, yelled into a megaphone. “Save Christian Armenia!” Many of the Armenian American demonstrators were also Trump supporters.

Melimeh Soukiasian, 36, of Los Angeles said she wasn’t sure yet who she would cast a vote for in November but said she would support Trump if he spoke out against Turkey’s actions.

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“Our U.S. tax dollars,” she said, “are funding the weapons that are being used to target civilians and hospitals, sacred churches in Armenia.”

Despite an announced truce, Armenia and Azerbaijan are trading accusations of violating the cease-fire in their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Teresa Wallace, 67, drove all the way from Palm Springs on Sunday morning to welcome the president to Newport Beach. She was dressed head-to-toe in Trump- and America-themed regalia.

“He’s transparent and he’s handled the coronavirus as well as anybody else could’ve handled it,” Wallace said. “I trust him. He’s a Christian man.”

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Lizanne Witte, a 63-year old from Laguna Beach, joined a small group of Biden supporters. She carried a sign that said “Science Makes America Great.”

A few Trump supporters chanted “Four more years” at the group, while others honked from their cars with American flags hanging out of the windows. Some shouted obscenities at Witte, a 32-year resident of Orange County.

“I’ve never seen this side of Orange County,” the community organizer said. “Even in protests about women’s rights and detained children, the reception had been respective differences in opinion. This is just nasty.”

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Matt Stoutenburg, a 50-year-old electrical contractor from Tustin, said it was a “chance of a lifetime” to see the president.

“I would love to meet Trump and see Trump,” he said. “Who in their right mind wouldn’t, actually?”

He said he knew he’d be around like-minded people. “When the motorcade came it was that same kind of energy that you feel when you’re in a big stadium and they’re doing the wave,” he said.

Claudine Abraham, a 53-year-old attorney, said the energy in the crowd was electric. “He loves this country and he wants everyone to do well,” she said of the president.

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Abraham came with her friend, Laura Alterman, a 54-year-old social worker, and their daughters. While Abraham supports Trump, Alterman and her daughter are liberal. Laura Alterman wore a white HRC hat.

“We’re friends, even though she’s really right, and I’m really left,” Alterman said.

She said she was there “just to witness it all. It’s a big deal, he’s in our town.”

“This has been interesting. I’ve never been this close to the president,” said Laura’s 12 year old daughter Shira Alterman. She said she and her friends call him “a walking Cheeto puff.”

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Sabrina Jane Ramos, 37, of Brea, posed with a group of women who shouted “Latinas for Trump” as they waited for the president’s motorcade along Newport Boulevard.

President Donald Trump greets supporters as he arrives on Air Force One at John Wayne Airport on Sunday.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

“He rarely comes to California and I wanted the president to know that some of us support him,” the graphic designer said.

Stephanie Lo, 47, of Pomona, said she did not vote for Trump in 2016, but that she is backing him this time around. She wore a navy blue Trump hat as a show of her support.

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“I don’t like his personality, but he’s efficient,” she said.

Trump was in Orange County for a fundraiser at the home of Palmer Luckey, a 28-year-old tech mogul. The Long Beach native, among California’s top GOP donors, is working on a defense startup whose projects include using technology to detect immigrants crossing illegally over the border.

Luckey’s Lido Isle mansion overlooks Newport Bay and sits at the tip of a manmade island that is home to about 800 residences and connected to Newport Beach by a two-lane bridge.

Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.


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