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Trump courts Polish Americans on NW Side, raises money in suburbs

US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump greets attendees after speaking at the Polish National Alliance in Chicago, Illinois, on September 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMADJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Two days after he compared Chicago to a “war-torn country” because of its crime, Donald Trump blew through town Wednesday to raise money for his presidential campaign, blast Hillary Clinton as “grossly incompetent” and stump for votes in the Polish-American community.

The polarizing Republican nominee was alternately serenaded by Polish Americans wishing he’ll live to be 100 and denounced by a suburban protester as a “despicable, intolerant, hateful liar.”

The Republican billionaire did not venture into the high-crime areas that he spotlighted in Monday night’s historic debate against Clinton, instead limiting his stops to a far southwest suburban golf club and a Polish fraternal organization on the Far Northwest Side, about three blocks from the Chicago-Lincolnwood border.

“I pledge to you a Trump administration will be a true friend to Poland and all Polish Americans,” Trump told a crowd of about 200 people at the Polish National Alliance headquarters, 6100 N. Cicero, according to a media pool report. “I don’t think you will be insulted if I say we’re going to be a friend to everybody.”

The Northwest Side stop was a last-minute addition to an Illinois swing built around a fundraiser in Bolingbrook.

Trump was at the Alliance for two private meetings at the invitation of the Polish American Congress, PNA official Alicia Kuklinska told the Chicago Sun-Times.

After the meetings he spoke for 18 minutes in what a pool reporter described as “very muted, if not hushed, tones.”

Against a backdrop of U.S. and Polish flags, Trump spoke about national security issues and thanked Poland for keeping its commitments to NATO. He credited Poland with being one of five countries in NATO paying 2 percent of their GDP to provide for their defense.

“We want to be strong, which means we want more countries to follow the example of Poland,” Trump said. “If every country in NATO made the same contribution as Poland, all of our allies would be more secure. And people would feel even better about NATO.”

Trump also used the event to take some shots at Clinton.

“We’re going to have a Trump administration that’s going to get things done, that’s going to lower taxes. Hillary Clinton, who I happen to believe is grossly incompetent, she’s going to raise taxes,” he said.

“I happen to believe that she’d be very, very bad for our country. I think it would be worse than four more years of Obama. It would actually be worse and it won’t be great for the people you’re representing and it won’t be great for the people of our country because we have a chance to really make America great again,” he said.

The billionaire developer and reality TV star likened U.S. voters to those in the United Kingdom, who opted out of the European Union.

“We want our independence back. We want our freedom back. We don’t want to take people into our country that we don’t want. We don’t want to take people into our country that possibly have very bad intentions. I mean, we have so many problems,” he said.

The crowd ended by singing “Sto Lat!,” the traditional Polish birthday song, which includes wishes of good luck and the line “may you live a hundred years.”

But outside, the mood was a bit less festive. Someone had scrawled graffiti including Trump’s name on the building.

Graffiti that included Donald Trump’s name was on the Polish National Alliance building, 6100 N. Cicero, early Wednesday but it was not visible by the time Trump arrived about 9:15 a.m. | Video still courtesy of NBC5 Chicago
Graffiti that included Donald Trump’s name was on the Polish National Alliance building, 6100 N. Cicero, early Wednesday but it was not visible by the time Trump arrived about 9:15 a.m. | Video still courtesy of NBC5 Chicago

And demonstrators showed up on the Northwest Side and in Bolingbrook to show their support for — or opposition to — Trump.

“I think it’s important for people to stand up and have their voices be heard against hatred,” said Deborah Shaw-Staley, 55, a Northwest Side grocery store worker and one of about 30 people who protested Trump outside the Polish National Alliance.

From the Northwest Side, Trump went to the far southwestern suburbs for a fund-raiser at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, hosted by Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.

But in the even more Republican-friendly suburbs, Trump still drew mixed reviews.

About two dozen Trump supporters showed up outside the Bolingbrook event to cheer him on. Trump detractors totaled about 175.

“This man has got the power, the fame and the money,” said Edna Bice, a bus driver from Bridgeview, explaining her belief that, unlike other politicians, Trump would be immune from such pursuits.

“Let’s bring in someone with no record who’s not beholden to anybody,” said David Fortman, 48, a real estate appraiser from Clarendon Hills who heard on the radio that Trump would be in Bolingbrook and decided to check it out.

“It’s not that I love Trump, I get how everyone hates his ego, and he’s had a couple bad one liners throughout his 30 or 40 years. He’s not a perfect person. But he’s not the status quo,” Fortman said.

Others found Trump much further from perfect.

“He’s a despicable, intolerant, hateful liar,” said Jaime Olson, 39, an attorney from Bolingbrook.

“I’m protesting our mayor, Roger Claar, bringing this horrible man into our community and using our tax dollars to help do it,” Olson said.

“We are not rapists. We are not drug dealers,” said Eduardo Serrano, 24, a chef from Bolingbrook.

“We’re trying to show that that’s not what Hispanics are all about,” Serrano said, flanked by other Mexican Americans and carrying a Mexican flag.