A couple dozen protesters held court Friday outside the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, as they chanted, held signs and clashed with Trump supporters and anti-government loyalists across the street from the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
Toni Perry of Upper Marlboro briefly chatted about job creation and taxes with Michael Symonette, a black Trump supporter who drove with other black men from the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area to advocate for the president, who spoke Friday during the four-day event. The men stood several feet away from the protesters wearing white T-shirts with black letters reading, “Trump and Republicans are not racists. Gods2.com.”
Symonette said President Trump will decrease government regulations and lower taxes that would ensure people can own businesses and produce a steady income.
“What about actually helping poor, black people?” Perry countered. “We’re supposed to care about everybody. Companies you say coming back are not going to worry about diversity. We will see in a year if you have a job.”
Those protesting Trump’s appearance at the conference focused on his effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In his speech Friday, Trump called it “a failed health care law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe.”
“Obamacare doesn’t work,” he said during the 49-minute speech, which CPAC live-streamed on its Twitter account. “We’re changing it. We’re going to make it much better. Obamacare covers very few people.”
Bernard Holloway, a member of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, said 475,000 Marylanders would lose health insurance if the Republicans take it away.
In addition, he said a change in health care requirements could affect the county’s plan to build a new state-of-the-art regional medical center in Largo. The proposed state budget has $11.3 million allocated toward construction of the hospital, but state and county officials have said another $15 million in operating costs must also be included.
“You take those folks who would lose health care and combine the fact that Donald Trump’s friend, [Maryland] Gov. Larry Hogan, who’s playing with money to build a new hospital … not a laughing matter,” said Holloway, 31, of Largo. “The fight for health care is real. People’s lives are on the line.”
The protesters also made sure to include other Trump policies they oppose, such as his executive order to ban people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Diane Delete drove from Germantown in Montgomery County to protest and brought a two-sided sign that read: “I march so my children won’t have to!” and “Justice for All” with the American flag upside-down.
“I don’t believe that this president represents the values that America stands for,” she said. “We have a right to stand up and speak to make sure this country goes forward. It’s about human life and justice for everybody.”