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Supporters and protesters greet Donald Trump Jr. at GOP fundraiser in Galloway
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Supporters and protesters greet Donald Trump Jr. at GOP fundraiser in Galloway

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GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Donald Trump Jr. arrived at a fundraiser at the Historic Smithville Inn on Tuesday evening greeted by shouts from a crowd of nearly 400 people, divided almost equally among supporters and protesters.

The two groups gathered on opposite sides of Route 9 and exchanged chants as they waited.

"I'm basically here to show my support for America and the Constitution," said Brian Mattei, 63, a Trump supporter. "There has been four years of Democratic disruptions. The COVID circumstances are hard enough."

In her "Science Is Not A Liberal Conspiracy" T-shirt, Jennifer Pyle, 43, who lives here, stood on the anti-Trump/pro-Joe Biden side of the street, but she was not screaming at the pro-Trump supporters.

Pyle showed up hoping to make a difference and to sway at least one vote.

"I'm here to support Biden and all the Atlantic County Democrats," Pyle said. "The second I saw it (Trump Jr.'s arrival) I knew I would be here today."

Trump Jr., a son and adviser to the president, spent time inside the restaurant with 80 people, who paid $1,500 to meet him. Media was not allowed.

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Outside on the restaurant's back lawn under a large tent, another 225 people who paid $300 each heard him speak for about 20 minutes. They also heard from his girlfriend, television commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle, several local Republicans and state GOP Chair Doug Steinhardt.

Trump Jr.'s speech was funny and relaxed. He spoke without notes.

"Democratic states with Democratic governors, and Democratic cities with Democratic mayors get burned down by Democratic voters, and it's somehow Donald Trump's fault," Trump Jr. said. "Everything except Middle East peace. That's not his fault. They don't ever talk about it. It's like it didn't happen," he said of recently announced peace pacts between Israel and two Arab nations.

He depicted Democrats as wanting "open borders and closed schools," and showing little concern for the effects of COVID-19 closures on businesses.

"You can't go to work, church or school. But you can go looting and rioting," Trump Jr. said of how some Democratic leaders have clamped down on public interaction except for during protests.

The event was a fundraiser for a 501c4 nonprofit group based in Egg Harbor Township called Citizens for Responsible Development. More than $200,000 was raised. Republican challenger Joe O'Donoghue for Atlantic County Sheriff and incumbent U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, of the 2nd District, were praised during the event.

"You have a congressman here that has some guts," Trump Jr. said of Van Drew, as the crowd cheered. Van Drew switched from the Democratic to the Republican party in December after opposing the impeachment of President Trump. "He had the guts to say the Democratic Party no longer represents him or his constituents."

Trump Jr. is promoting his new book, "Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden And The Democrats' Defense of the Indefensible."

 

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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