Republican Donald Trump declared it's "great to be home" at a massive rally in the New York City suburbs Wednesday, shrugging off a defeat in Wisconsin a day earlier and instead, predicting victory in his delegate-rich home state.
"I love these people. These are my people," he said to thunderous cheers.
Dozens of police officers amassed outside the soundstage venue on Long Island as protesters chanted "your hats are made in China" and "dump Trump."
Trump supporters retaliated, declaring "socialism sucks!" and "leave this country!"
The rally comes as the GOP front-runner signaled a shift toward "more meat on the bone" in his policy speeches amid new signs of campaign discord after his stinging Wisconsin loss to rival Ted Cruz emboldened his critics and pushed the GOP closer to its first contested national convention in four decades.
During the event, Trump invoked the heroism of New York City police and firefighters during the 9/11 terror attacks in a swipe at Cruz, referring to Cruz's line from a debate earlier this year in which he criticized "New York values." Trump said Cruz said it "with scorn on his face" and "with hatred."
Trump said he couldn't believe that anyone would question the heroism of the city's uniformed officers and construction workers during the aftermath of the 2001 attacks that toppled the World Trade Center.
Cruz was not the only target of Trump's attacks during the raucous Bethpage rally. He called out "How bad Hillary so bad. It will be fun! It will be fun!"
Toward the end of his speech, Trump did a dramatic reading of a 1968 Al Wilson song called "The Snake" in what he deemed an analogy to immigration in the U.S.
Two people were arrested when they allegedly got into a fight inside the rally, according to Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who has previously said "violence will not be tolerated" at the rally.
Police had expected about 1,000 protesters to line the street near the rally site, but ralliers and protesters were separated from Trump supporters to avoid any clashes.
Krumpter estimated about $300,000 to $400,000 was spent on police overtime to cover the event.
Six people were transported to hospital for exhaustion-related injuries, and they were mostly elderly people who had been standing for awhile, according to Krumpter. Seven others were treated on the scene.
Prior Trump events have been marred with reports of clashes between supporters and protesters, and an event in Chicago last month had to be canceled after the event devolved into chaos.
Trump, who was born and raised in Queens, is expected to rebound in his home state after losing some momentum in the Wisconsin primary.
A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed that 52 percent of Republican voters surveyed in the Empire State say they support Trump, compared with just 17 percent for Cruz. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third remaining GOP candidate, had the support of about 25 percent of polled voters.
Trump was supported by more than half of all polled voters in New York City and Long Island and in Upstate New York. He polled at slightly under 50 percent in Western New York.
RealClearPolitics, which aggregates and averages polling data, shows Trump leading by more than 30 points in New York.
While Trump maintains a big delegate lead, Cruz took a big step forward with his win in Wisconsin. The senator has no realistic path to claim the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7, but he might force a contested convention by blocking Trump from getting a majority of delegates in the state-by-state voting.
Trump must win 57 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention. So far, he's winning 46 percent.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who hopes the year will play out in Cruz's favor, said the Republican race was "very likely" headed to an open convention.
"Ted Cruz will win on the second ballot if not on the way in, and he will unite the party," Walker said on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, asked if she's coming around to the idea of Cruz as the nominee, said, "I'm coming around to more like, 'It looks like it will be a very interesting convention.'"
At the same time, Clinton allies were broadening their attacks against Trump to include Cruz, a first-term senator who has often alienated Democrats and Republican alike in Washington.
"One of the scariest parts of Donald Trump's insulting, demeaning and dangerous attack on women is that Ted Cruz might actually be even worse for women," said Anne Caprara, who leads the pro-Clinton group, Priorities USA. That group worked with the campaign arm of Planned Parenthood to unveil an anti-Trump internet ad on Wednesday.
The New York primary, the first meaningful contest in the state in decades, will be held April 19.