Donald Trump sounded like he was reliving his glory days Friday in Omaha.

Trump spoke for about 40 minutes to an enthusiastic crowd of about 3,500 people near Eppley Airfield, and much of it was spent recounting how he defeated 16 other Republicans.

"I started out with 17 people and one by one — one by one — it was a beautiful thing to watch. We had a good time," he said. "I’ve been a politician for 10 months and these guys have been politicians — some of them for 30 years."

Friday’s rally, held in an open-door hangar, had multiple protests erupting during Trump’s speech. Security was kept busy shuffling anti-Trump protesters — almost all of them young — out of the hangar.

"Get em out. Get em out of here. Go home to Mom," Trump yelled at one point.

After the event, several protesters and Trump supporters got into a scuffle. Police were seen escorting some people away in handcuffs.

Trump appeared with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts by his side. Ricketts did not endorse earlier in the presidential race, but his parents — Joe and Marlene Ricketts — helped lead the anti-Trump effort on the national stage.

However, Trump appeared to try to mend fences, saying several times he liked Ricketts — despite his family’s efforts to deny him the nomination.

Trump supporters interviewed at the rally were giddy with the idea that their candidate had all but secured the nomination. And they predicted he would win in November because they see him as a straight shooter who would build a wall on the nation’s southern border and toughen America’s military defenses.

"I like him because he’s not politically correct," said Jim Bichel, a semi-retired accountant from Omaha. "He says things people don’t want to hear sometimes."

"He says what he means and he doesn’t back down. He doesn’t waffle," added Lynda Uleman, 69, an executive assistant from Omaha.

Many of those atttending wore "Make America Great Again" hats.

Trump all but secured the GOP nomination after his win in Indiana on Tuesday, which prompted his only serious rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to exit the race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also dropped out this week.

Besides Ricketts, several leading Nebraskans were on hand for today’s rally, including former Gov. Dave Heineman.

Heineman said it is now time for all Republicans to unite behind the controversial candidate, saying he won the primary race "fair and square."

He also said the call by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., for a third-party candidate was nothing but a mere "fantasy."

"That’s fantasy world. Ben Sasse is a good friend of mine, OK? But that’s fantasy," said Heineman.

* * * * *

Mother of woman killed in Omaha crash will meet with Trump

The mother of a woman who police say was killed in a collision by an undocumented immigrant is supporting Trump, after voting for President Barack Obama for the last two elections.

Michelle Root said Trump’s campaign workers had reached out to her a couple weeks after her daughter was killed.

Sarah Root, 21, died on Jan. 31, a day after her graduation from Bellevue University when Eswin Mejia drove drunk and slammed his truck into her car, Omaha police have said. Mejia is from Honduras and came to the country illegally. He posted $5,000 bail and has been named a top 10 fugitive by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Root family has met with lawmakers in the last few weeks and testified in Congress about the missteps by the agency and illegal immigration.

Michelle Root, wearing a shirt with her daughter’s name and a Trump sticker, said that campaign officials had told her Trump will meet with her before or after his speech scheduled for 4 p.m.

Before Trump’s campaign had reached out, Michelle had thought she wasn’t going to vote this year because she didn’t like the top candidates.

“I told my daughter when she was still alive ... this was probably going to be the first year I did not vote,” Michelle said. “That has all changed getting to know Mr. Trump more.”

She said she is registered as a Democrat but plans to switch parties and vote for Trump. She volunteered for the John Edwards campaign in 2008 but ultimately voted for Obama in both elections.

“I was fooled by (Obama’s) promise of change,” she said.

Root agrees with Trump’s push for a wall on the border and to deport the undocumented immigrants living in the United States. She said Trump’s policies might have prevented the tragedy that took her daughter.

“In my heart I believe it would have because he wouldn’t have been here to do that to Sarah,” she said. “Do the right thing, come over legally.”

* * * * *

Protester kicked out after riling up crowd

As the crowd waited for the rally to begin, a disturbance arose as young protester in the crowd near the stage shouted a profanity.

The crowd then began to yell "Trump Trump Trump" in an effort to get security and drown out the protester. An older man began to yell at him and came close to a physical confrontation, several observers said.

"This kid walked to the middle of the crowd and then stood up and yelled, 'F Trump,'" said Derek Dornsife, 18, of Omaha. "There was a confrontation with some old, bald guy. He got right into his face."

The protester was then escorted out by security, who also held the Trump supporter back. At least two other people were seen being escorted out around the same time.

* * * * *

* * * * *

"I like him because he's not politically correct"

Trump supporters interviewed at the rally were giddy with the idea that their candidate had all but secured the nomination. And they predicted he would win in November because they see him as a straight shooter who would build a wall on the nation's southern border and toughen America's military defenses.

"I like him because he's not politically correct," said Jim Bichel, a semi-retired accountant from Omaha. "He says things people don't want to hear sometimes."

"He says what he means and he doesn't back down. He doesn't waffle," added Lynda Uleman, 69, an executive assistant from Omaha.

* * * * *

Beautiful weather, thousands await Trump

Donald Trump and his supporters scored a beautiful sunny day this afternoon for a rally in an airport hangar in Omaha.

Thousands of Nebraskans — many of them wearing "Make America Great Again" hats — are waiting for the presumptive Republican presidential candidate in an open-door hangar near Eppley Airfield. The rally is supposed to begin at 4 p.m.

Trump all but secured the GOP nomination after his win in Indiana on Tuesday, which prompted his only serious rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to exit the race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also dropped out this week.

Several Nebraska dignitaries were on hand for today’s rally, including former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.

Heineman said it is now time for all Republicans to unite behind the controversial candidate, saying he won the primary race "fair and square."

He also said the call by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., for a third-party candidate was nothing but a mere "fantasy."

"That’s fantasy world. Ben Sasse is a good friend of mine, OK? But that’s fantasy," said Heineman.

* * * * *

Rally information

Those hoping to see GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday should expect some long waits and hot weather.

Trump plans a 4 p.m. rally with Nebraska politicians at the Werner Enterprises Hangar, 3619 Doolittle Plaza. The hangar is accessible via Lindbergh Plaza, a street that circles behind the airport and will be one-way starting at Locust Street, south of the airport.

Parking will be available along Lindbergh Plaza, an airport official said. Paid parking will also be available at lots near the airport, but depending on where attendees park, it could be a 4-mile walk to the rally site. People flying out of the airport Friday afternoon should also plan for extra traffic in the area and less parking than usual.

Doors open for the rally three hours before it begins. With a predicted high of 85, it may be a warm wait.

Tickets are available on Trump's campaign website.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is expected to introduce Trump, said Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage. “The governor is supporting Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee,” he said.

Former Gov. Dave Heineman also is to be on hand. Heineman has been chosen as Donald Trump’s honorary campaign chairman in Nebraska. State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha will serve as the campaign’s state chairman.

* * * * *

1:30 p.m.: Dave Heineman on Ben Sasse's comments

* * * * *

1:16 p.m.: "These people are Americans"

A secret service guy tells crowd to tell security if there are protesters. "These people are Americans...don't take it into your own hands."

* * * * *

World-Herald reporters and photographers covering Trumps' visit

For older tweets, visit http://on.omaha.com/1ryXOBt

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.