Glossing over Muslim stance, Trump gets a union endorsement

December 11, 2015

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Donald Trump picked up his first endorsement of a union, notching the support of a law enforcement group that represents more than 1,000 officers in New Hampshire.

But what about Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country? Eh. Many at the New England Police Benevolent Association, or NEPBA, meeting on Thursday night let out a collective shrug – even if many of them weren’t decided on voting for him.

The endorsement by the group came only days after Trump prompted a fervor when he called for banning all Muslims — with a handful of exceptions — from entering the country. Republican and Democratic rivals were quick to denounce him for the statement.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up as he is joined on stage by members of the New England Police Benevolent Association after receiving their endorsement in Portsmouth, New Hampshire December 10, 2015.     REUTERS/Mary Schwalm

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up as he is joined on stage by members of the New England Police Benevolent Association in Portsmouth, New Hampshire December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm

But that didn’t appear to bother many in the crowd — including several attendees who said they were not yet decided on who they would vote for but could back Trump.

“He means well for the country,” said Tina Miles, 53, the wife of a retired police officer.

A resident of Greenland, N.H., Miles plans to vote for him. She said she agrees that the United States needs to his pause on immigration to sort out what happens next.

“Maybe he’s not politically correct.”

Trump talked about cops and never mentioned Muslims — saying he would authorize the death penalty for every person who killed a cop and backing the use of military equipment by local law enforcement.

The NEPBA has drawn attention in the political world before. Earlier this year, the group, which has 4,000 members in Massachusetts, led a protest of President Barack Obama when he spoke in Boston.

Celina Campion, 31, of Portsmouth, N.H. who attended as a guest, said she’s not decided who she’s voting for, but hasn’t ruled Trump out for his proposal about Muslims.

“It’s opening up the discussion,” Campion said. “At least we’re opening up the discussion.

Harold Whitehouse, 87, of Portsmouth, N.H. said while he’s undecided, he too could vote for Trump. He doesn’t give much serious consideration to Trump’s statement that he would ban Muslims from entering the country because he thinks it’s simply political talk.

“Talk is cheap,” Whitehouse said. “Words flow like water.”

Stephen Arnold, the New Hampshire State Director of the NEPBA,said he was more interested in what Trump had to say about supporting law enforcement agencies and is leaning toward supporting him.

“It’s refreshing to hear,” Arnold said. “We need backup.”

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