- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Despite the violent outbursts of protesters who overran barricades and charged police officers outside his rally, Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday told thousands of supporters he was glad he stopped in New Mexico and he vowed to be back before the general election in November.

Trump said he would win the state in the upcoming primary and win back the country, triggering cheers inside the Albuquerque Convention Center as protesters rushed the building from the outside.

Police in riot gear and mounted patrol units tried to hold back the angry crowd. Demonstrators threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles, rocks and other debris at police, smashed windows at the center and overturned trash cans and barricades.

Officers eventually used smoke grenades and pepper spray to disburse the crowd.

Hours after Trump and some 4,000 of his supporters left, a smattering of demonstrators remained in downtown.

The chaotic night erased the political drought that had plagued New Mexico through much of the campaign season. Until a visit from Democrat Bernie Sanders last week, no presidential candidate had been to New Mexico.

Tuesday marked Trump’s first visit to the nation’s most Hispanic state, and former President Bill Clinton made the first of two scheduled campaign stops for his wife, Hillary Clinton.

During the Trump rally, the presumptive nominee’s remarks were interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers. Among the messages were banners that read, “Trump is Fascist,” and another that read, “We’ve heard enough.”

Trump instructed security to remove the protesters and mocking their actions.

“Go home to mommy,” he said.

“How old is this kid?” Trump asked in response to another demonstrator. “Still wearing diapers,” he said.

His supporters responded with chants of “Build that wall!”

On the plaza in Espanola, Bill Clinton pleaded with several hundred Democrats to send his wife “to the convention with the wind at her back,” repeating the refrain, “We can do this.”

His speech dwelled on themes of educational opportunity in economically downtrodden communities and portrayed Hillary Clinton as an advocate for Americans from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Trump said the number of people on welfare in New Mexico has tripled and said Gov. Susana Martinez, head of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s only Latina governor, needs to do a better job. Her office dismissed Trump’s comments.

Martinez harshly criticized Trump’s remarks on immigrants and has attacked his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The governor did not attend the rally and has yet to make an endorsement.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lee reported from Espanola, New Mexico.

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Follow Morgan Lee on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MLeeAP and Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

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