BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) - President Donald Trump spent a second day watching the women’s golf tournament being held at his central New Jersey golf club Saturday, as dozens of anti-Trump protesters waved flags and held up banners outside.
Sporting his signature red “Make America Great Again” cap, Trump arrived to cheers from fans watching the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
“We love you, Donald!” they shouted, as he made his way into an enclosed viewing area with large windows looking out onto the course.
Trump spent the afternoon watching the tournament on television, chatting with competing golfers and club managers, posing for photos and flashing thumbs-up signs to spectators who gathered to catch a glimpse of their president in the flesh. The loud crowd that gathered to watch him at times distracted the golfers playing nearby, with club staff urging fans trying to win Trump’s attention to be quiet during play.
Every so often, Trump would turn to acknowledge the crowd, pointing to fans decked out in his campaign merchandise and offering thumbs-up, fist bumps and mouthed, “Thank you!”s.
“It’s just a fun experience,” said Tom Palmer, 28, of Philadelphia. “He’s enjoying,” he said of the president, “so it’s fun to be around.”
But others were less impressed.
Ed Riley, 75, of Bridgewater, New Jersey, brought his 13-year-old grandson, Joey, to the open in hopes of seeing Trump. But he said the president’s presence wound up being a “little bit of a distraction” for players competing with the Republican for attention and applause.
He also was weary of the armed law enforcement officers positioned around the property, calling the experience “a little bit scary.”
White House officials did not provide a full list of the people the president met with, but his middle son Eric, and daughter-in-law, Lara, were both spotted inside the viewing room.
Outside the club’s gates, dozens of protesters and supporters waved competing flags and banners near where the president has a residence at the club, which sits on more than 600 acres (243 hectares) of rolling hills amid farmland.
“America Lost Putin Won,” read one sign - a nod to the intensifying inquiries into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides.
Trump has dismissed the investigations as a “witch hunt” and remained defiant Saturday. “Stock Market hit another all-time high yesterday - despite the Russian hoax story! Also, jobs numbers are starting to look very good!” he tweeted.
But while people disagreed over his policies, the demonstrations remained civil.
Anne Burke, of Middlesex County, New Jersey, wearing a Trump T-shirt, and protester Domaine Leveille, of Bedminster, sporting a Hillary Clinton-themed “She Resisted” shirt, chatted for a while before shaking hands.
The anti-sexism group UltraViolet is planning a rally Sunday to protest the United States Golf Association’s decision to stage the biggest women’s tournament of the year at a course owned by Trump because of his past lewd comments about women.
Trump has spent numerous weekends visiting his own properties and golf courses, raising alarms from ethics experts and critics who say he is using the presidency to bolster his properties’ profiles and enrich himself.
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