BURLINGTON, Vt. — After a day's worth of drama over the crowd size at Donald Trump's rally here Thursday, the Republican presidential front-runner's campaign attempted to bar anyone who did not pledge their support from attending his event.
But that didn’t stop a number of protesters from disrupting the event held just blocks from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign headquarters. On multiple occasions, pro-Sanders or anti-Trump activists made themselves known to the auditorium, one group even moving towards the stage with a “dump Trump” sign before being escorted out.
Trump said those who made it into his rally at a 1,400-seat auditorium were “very lucky” after his campaign distributed 20,000 free tickets. Supporters waited in line for hours hoping to get in.
Some who made it through security told NBC News they were asked if they were Trump supporters. Those who said yes were allowed in, while many that didn't were turned away.
"We have more than 20,000 people that showed up for 1,400 spots. I'm taking care of my people, not people who don't want to vote for me or are undecided,” Trump said in a statement. “They are loyal to me and I am loyal to them."
But the protesters interrupted Trump throughout his remarks, prompting him to joke that staff should "confiscate the coats" before sending the them into the frigid Vermont night.
On the same night that President Obama attended a live televised town hall on gun-law reform, Trump spoke about his plans to protect the Second Amendment.
Reiterating a promise to get rid of gun-free zones on military bases, Trump added that he will also “get rid of gun free zones in schools” on his first day in office.
“There’s no more gun free zones,” Trump said to loud applause before continuing to once again discuss the gun rules on military bases.
It was unclear, however, whether Trump meant that no more gun free zones was relegated just to school and military bases, or on the whole. The campaign did not return NBC News’s request for clarification on the remark.
"We need our guns," Trump said — a stark juxtaposition while the president defended his recent executive order to try to curb gun deaths and strengthen existing background check programs, among other things.
When Trump polled the crowd to see if they liked him, many in the audience booed — he was on Sanders' turf after all.
Trump said they’d like Sanders "if you want to pay a 90 percent tax" and then reminded everyone of a favorite story: the time Sanders’ microphone was overtaken by Black Lives Matter protesters at one of his rallies in Seattle.
"That won’t happen with me," Trump promised, again.
This normally quiet town was abuzz throughout the day as excited supporters and passionate protesters awaited the arrival of the businessman candidate.
Main Street in the predominantly progressive city was filled with energetic Trump devotees waiting in line hours after the event. Others here gathered to protest a message they see as hate-filled and unacceptable.
Both sides of the spectrum seemed to have shared a common feeling: frenzy.
Trump’s rally made headlines Wednesday night after local law enforcement and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger released statements of concern for Trump’s hugely oversold rally. Saying they welcomed the political discourse Trump would bring, they also shared concerns for the safety of those hoping to attend the event.
"If Phish was holding a free concert at the Flynn and gave away 20,000 free tickets, we would cancel the event out of public safety concerns," Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo told the Burlington Free Press. "We are committed to accommodating the campaign because political speech is the very essence of the First Amendment."