Donald Trump calls for mandatory death penalty for killing police officers

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at the meeting of the New England Police Benevolent Association in Portsmouth, New Hampshire December 10, 2015.

REUTERS

Portsmouth, New Hampshire Standing with a group of police and corrections officers, Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump on Thursday called for a mandatory death penalty for anyone convicted of killing a police officer.

"One of the first things I do in terms of executive order if I win will be to sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country, out to the world, that anybody killing a policeman, policewoman, police officer - death penalty," he said.

Riding stronger than ever before in the Republican polls, Trump's event in New Hampshire Thursday was perfectly conventional: He was receiving the endorsement of a police union inside a smaller-than-usual hotel conference room.

But the atmospherics of the presidential race -- Trump's call this week for a ban on Muslims entering the United States has only firmed up his standing atop the GOP polls -- overshadowed the appearance where he picked up the endorsement of the New England Police Benevolent Association.

Though it wasn't his message of the day, Trump spoke briefly about his proposal to ban Muslims, saying that racial profiling is necessary to stop domestic terror attacks like the shooting in San Bernardino, California.

"We can't worry about being politically correct," Trump said before a swarm of media, including multiple foreign news outlets. "We just can't afford anymore to be so politically correct."

Outside of the Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, dueling demonstrations took place: a group of 300 anti-Trump protesters, including a marching band playing music throughout, held up signs saying "Trump: America's Hitler" and "Love > Hate."

One of the demonstrators -- Maggie Ball of Kensington -- accused Trump of dividing the country.

"Hate does not belong in our country, you cannot be a leader and hate people and keep people out that you don't even know," Ball said. "All people deserve to come to this country as long as they are not hateful, and we are a country of faith and opportunity and we should stay that way."

Across the street, a smaller pro-Trump crowd gathered in support of the billionaire businessman and his Muslim ban. Many disputed the idea that Trump is racist, and echoed the Republican front runner's television appearances in which he said the ban would only be temporary.

"We are under attack," said Sandy Woodmansee, a Trump backer from Ebbitt, New Hampshire. "I'm concerned for my three teenage kids. Do I like the idea of telling someone they can't come to America? I don't like the idea of that, but you know what, I think right now that's a good idea to keep us safe. Just for a time."

John Bassett, a Trump supporter who came in from Maine, called the businessman's plan "very American."

"He's not mean, he's not bigoted, he's not racist," Bassett said. "I've known him for a long time - not personally - but he's successful."