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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Spokane prepares for Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a rally, Friday, May 6, 2016, in Omaha, Neb. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a rally, Friday, May 6, 2016, in Omaha, Neb. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

When Donald Trump arrives in Spokane on Saturday, presumably by landing at the airport aboard the Boeing-built 757 jet he calls Trump Force One, the city will be ready for him.

Trump’s campaign has reserved and paid for two halls at the Spokane Convention Center, room for more than 5,000 supporters. The Secret Service and Spokane Police Department have been securing the site and preparing for his visit, and police are recommending that people who aren’t headed to the rally avoid downtown and the inevitable traffic snarls. Some of Trump’s political opponents say they are ready to demonstrate, but plans to organize have been stalled by doubts that Trump will show up.

Until the New York billionaire’s campaign confirmed the visit, many wondered if he would come to Spokane at all. After all, his final opponents for the Republican nomination for president dropped out of the race this week, and his candidacy continues to face resistance from leaders in his own party, including Eastern Washington’s Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The Secret Service and Spokane Police Department have had “lots of conversations” with staff of the Convention Center, where Trump will hold a noon rally, said Kevin Twohig, CEO of the Spokane Public Facilities District. The rally is scheduled for exhibit halls A and B, where the Bloomsday Trade Show was held.

Much like Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ March visit to the Convention Center, Trump’s reservation and prepayment “is just a business decision,” Twohig said.

“We treat every candidate the same. We charge them all the same rate card for that building. We don’t have any favorites,” Twohig said, before noting that Trump was unlike any other candidate. “This one’s obviously a bit more challenging, due to the nature of the candidate and the controversy surrounding him. But we’re open to any candidate.”

Firearms and other weapons are not allowed in the Convention Center.

Twohig said Trump’s rally should not disrupt the Disney musical “Newsies,” which begins at 2 p.m. in the INB Performing Arts Center on the Convention Center campus.

Officials said they were uncertain of how many people Trump will draw. Requests for comment from Trump’s campaign were declined.

Sanders’ first visit to Spokane in March drew nearly 10,000 people to the Convention Center. Four days later, he returned for a rally at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena before 3,000 supporters. Former President Bill Clinton also visited town that week, and his rally brought out about 1,000 people.

Officer Teresa Fuller, a police spokeswoman, said police were expecting large numbers downtown, but no streets will be closed. Instead, Fuller urged people coming downtown for a reason unrelated to Trump to use Maple, Ash or Monroe streets instead of the Division or Washington couplets.

“If you aren’t attending the rally, or something near the area where the rally is occurring, we ask that you avoid the area,” Fuller said. “We’ll have a lot of assets down there to make sure things go smoothly.”

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, works for the Trump campaign and predicted that “a lot of people” will show up to Saturday’s rally in Spokane.

Ericksen said Trump was continuing to campaign in Washington to secure the needed delegates for the nomination, as well as to win the state in the general election, something a Republican hasn’t done since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was re-elected.

“We still need to secure 1,237 delegates, and the Washington primary is very important,” Ericksen said. “Secondly, Washington state is in play in the general election. You are going to see massive amounts of blue-collar working men and women turn out for Donald Trump. … He is truly a grass-roots candidate.”

Ericksen, who represents the northwesternmost district in the state, is attending Trump’s rally there following the Spokane event. He said the campaign tried to find a location for a rally in King County but was unsuccessful.

“We could not secure the needed permits in King County,” Ericksen said. “It has nothing to do with our proximity to the Canadian border.”

So far, there’s no organized protest against Trump in Spokane. Jim Dawson, campaign director with the liberal Fuse Washington, said he attempted to bring like-minded opponents of Trump together, but was unsuccessful due to questions over Trump’s visit following the collapse of his opponents’ campaigns.

“If he shows up, there will definitely be people that protest,” said Dawson, referring people to a “Stop Trump! Shut it down!” Facebook page.

Dave Moore, chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party, said he expected local Republican leaders to be at the rally but was unsure which ones.

“The only notable Republican I can say for sure is going is me,” Moore said. “It’s up in the air.”

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