About 1,000 people who had lined up outside First Niagara Center hours before a Donald Trump rally is expected to begin flowed into the arena shortly before 4 p.m. with little delay.
Trump's rally, expected to begin at 6 p.m., is the grand finale of what has been more than a week of campaign events in Western New York as candidates sought to woo New York voters ahead of Tuesday's primary. The rally at First Niagara Center has drawn hundreds of Trump supporters this afternoon, as well as protesters, members of the press and vendors hoping to make a buck.
Tony Ensminger, a vendor from Cleveland, Ohio, was among about two dozen vendors hawking t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers.
"There's normally miles of Trump supporters and usually dozens of protesters," said Ensminger, who said he has traveled to dozens of political rallies. "I wonder if the media will show the blocks and blocks of peaceful Trump supporters."
Yana Koleva, 22, a native of Bulgaria who now lives in Florida, was with a band of five vendors who are traveling around the country in a caravan to sell campaign paraphernalia at political rallies.
"You've got to do what you've go to do," said Koleva, who was looking forward to a day off on Tuesday before heading to Indianapolis on Wednesday. "Sometimes, it's rough. People don't treat us nice, the protesters."
Here's how the afternoon has unfolded, with updates from Robert J. McCarthy, Jerry Zremski, Maki Becker, Lou Michel, Qin Liu, Sandra Tan, T.J. Pignataro, Derek Gee, Mark Mulville and Harry Scull:
3:56 p.m.: A line of about 1,000 people who had been waiting in line to enter First Niagara Center flowed into the venue shortly before 4 p.m.
— Derek Gee (@DerekGeePhoto) April 18, 2016
Trump supporters flow into First Niagara. Until, 3:15 pm about 1,000 waited in bright sunshine. pic.twitter.com/zY4yjIXMSs
— Lou Michel (@LouMichelBN) April 18, 2016
3:27 p.m.: Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, a Trump supporter and former gubernatorial candidate, has arrived.
— Qina Liu (@qinaliu) April 18, 2016
3 p.m.: Rex Ryan and Donald Trump in the same arena?
That will be the case tonight when the Buffalo Bills coach introduces the presidential candidate at Trump's rally at First Niagara Center.
During a news conference following the Bills' first day of their offseason conditioning program, Ryan said he would be making the introduction of Trump, who was in the running to purchase the Bills before the club was acquired by Terry and Kim Pegula.
Asked if Trump had Ryan's support for the Republican nomination, the coach said, "I'm going to introduce him, that's a true statement. But I'm not going to say who my endorsement is and all that stuff.
-- Vic Carucci
2:45 p.m.: People are already queuing up to see Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump speak in Buffalo -- and in some cases, they've been waiting for hours.
"It's truly something special," said Lawrence Chirico, who has been in line since 2 a.m., of the Trump phenomenon that has energized voters. He was joined by two high school students from Rochester at about 8 a.m.
By 2:45 p.m., the line had grown substantially.
— Qina Liu (@qinaliu) April 18, 2016
Security measures for people entering the arena are going to be more lengthy and time-consuming than usual, police warned Monday.
“The screening is more like an airport screening rather than the screening at a Sabres game,” Buffalo Police Lt. Jeff Rinaldo told reporters.
Doors open at 4 p.m.
While we wait for doors to open, here's some related coverage that has run in The News in the last few weeks:
Michael R. Caputo recalls the night two years ago when Carl P. Paladino seemed to “click” with Donald Trump.
Meeting at a Manhattan restaurant with other Buffalonians, Paladino was unsuccessfully imploring Trump to run for governor of New York in 2014, said Caputo, the local political strategist who ran Paladino’s campaign and is now assisting Trump. The pair seemed to feed on each other, Caputo said, as well as on the anger and resentment toward Albany that they encountered throughout New York State.
“It was like they would finish each other’s sentences,” Caputo said. “He told him, ‘I think you can succeed where we failed. What I couldn’t do, I think you can.’ ”
Tuesday’s New York presidential primaries are the most important in decades – but they’re also hugely complicated. Here’s a look at what you need to know to understand the results.
What’s at stake?
In one way, it’s simple. There are 95 delegates at stake on the Republican side and 291 on the Democratic side. But that’s only part of the story.
For the Republicans, three delegates will be at stake in each of the state’s congressional districts, for a total of 81. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a congressional district, he will get all three delegates. Otherwise, the winner will get two and the runner-up will get one – or if the vote is roughly tied three ways, each candidate will get a delegate. A total of 14 “at large” and “automatic” delegates will be apportioned according to the statewide results.
Aden Ali of Buffalo has a lot riding on the outcome of the presidential election. The Somali immigrant has a wife and two children in Kenya, awaiting clearance to join him here.
But Donald Trump says he wants to block Muslim refugees from entering the United States, and Ali, who is Muslim, worries about the possibility if Trump is elected president.
“If he wins the presidency, how are my wife and kids going to come to this country?” said Ali, who works as a machine operator at a local chocolate maker.
Thousands are expected to fill First Niagara Center on Monday to hear Donald Trump.
In the crowd will be dozens who have already been on buses for him.
They traveled months ago to places in New Hampshire, Ohio and South Carolina – battleground primary states – and went door-to-door or made phone calls to drum up support for Trump.
Some were lifelong Republicans. Some had just registered for the party. Others had been Democrats all their lives.
And the bus riders couldn’t be pigeonholed by gender or class, either.
“There was one who collected bottles and cans, and another guy who was a millionaire,” said organizer Jul Thompson.