MANCHESTER — The doors are open at the campaign rally for President Donald Trump, and people have started going inside.
Tom Sargent, 26, came from Newton to be part of something, he said Thursday afternoon.
“You only get so many chances to be part of a movement like this,” he said as he walked toward the back of the line.
Sargent said he wanted to come to the rally to openly show his support for Trump, he said. He sometimes feels like he has to keep it a secret, he said lost friends over his support for Trump. “A lot of people don’t talk to me anymore.”
The line into the rally stretched several blocks south along Elm Street. Comedian and Trump impersonator Eric Jackman stalked the line in orange makeup, a blond wig and a comically long red tie, posing for pictures with rally goers.
“I’m the god emperor of the United States!” Jackman said, imitating the president’s voice.
Jackman said he has taken the impression all over the country since 2016, playing to audiences that both support and despise Trump.
“My impression is not blind love or blind hate,” Jackman said. In a way, he said, the schtick is an expression of passion for free speech, he said.
“We’re in a country where you can dress up like the president and come to one of his events and not get thrown in jail,” he said before being pulled away for another selfie with a Trump supporter.
A few dozen sign-wielding protesters stood across Granite Street from the arena. An Elizabeth Warren campaign volunteer collected email addresses on a stack of postcards.
Tara Coakley, from Nashua, and Laureen August, from Litchfield, said they were protesting so they would be able to tell their children they did something to oppose the Trump administration.
Maybe they will make a few Trump supporters think twice, August said, or maybe not.
“Sometimes I think we encourage them,” Coakley said.
Trump supporters wearing red caps and bemused little smiles filmed the protest on their phones.
One man paced up and down the line with a sign calling for further investigation of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Mark Nioan of Watertown, Mass. shared boxes of Market Basket pizza with his group in the line. They had been waiting in line for three hours, but Nioan said it was worth it.
“I want to feel it — the feeling, the winning feeling,” he said. “Donald Trump, the man, the man, 2020.”