Scores line up for Trump Vermont event in Sanders’ hometown

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Supporters and opponents of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lined up Thursday for hours clamoring for a seat at a Vermont theatre to hear the Republican front-runner speak.

More than 100 people were already in line by midday with over seven hours to go before the event kicked off. More than 20,000 tickets were distributed for free to the Burlington event in a theater with only 1,400 seats, according to police.

Local police said even people with tickets in hand will be turned away once the theater is full and were expecting major gridlock across the city as the event gets underway. Counter demonstrations against the GOP hopeful are likely, police said.

Home to Democratic presidential candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Republicans are vying for support in New England ahead of the critical New Hampshire primary, scheduled for Feb. 9, which is viewed by campaigns as a momentum builder in the early-voting season.

Supporters turned up in Trump sweatshirts and waving Trump signs. Others wore campaign buttons supporting Sanders, who began his political career in Burlington in the 1980s while serving as mayor of the city, which has evolved into one of the most left-leaning communities in a state.

Nate Brooks left his home in the upper Connecticut River Valley town of Bradford, Vt., at 6 a.m. in time to get in line at 8.

“I like the way he talks. He’s blunt. He’s not bought. He pays for himself and I just think it’s the right movement to make,” Brooks said of Trump. “A lot of us are getting sick of the same old stuff and it’s going to be a good change.”

McKenzie Kelley, 13, of Bennington, Vt., took the day off from school Thursday and carried a Trump sign while she waited in line along with her mother and her social studies teacher.

“I would love to hear him out,” McKenzie said. “I stand for about 95 percent of what he is about.”

Trump opponents turned out early too. Burlington resident Mark Conrad was first in line, arriving at 4:30 a.m. A staunch Trump critic, he said he’d like to ask the GOP contender why the venue was booked overcapacity.

“I can’t stand the guy,” Conrad said of Trump. “I don’t believe anything he says.”

— Written by Wilson Ring

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