Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump barnstormed across Wisconsin on Saturday in an effort to close the gap with rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whom polls have favored to win the state’s primary election.
At a rally in the city of Eau Claire, Trump asked voters to close the gap between himself and his closest competitor in Wisconsin, Cruz.
“If we win Wisconsin, I think it’s over. If I don’t win it, I think we have a good chance because we’re way up in New York, way up in New Jersey, way up in Pennsylvania, but I (want) Wisconsin to win it for me,” he said.
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Earlier on Saturday, Trump spoke in Racine to kick off a series of stops in Wisconsin over the next few days ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.
He attacked Cruz several times during the Racine visit. For example, Trump claimed Cruz might be misleading conservative radio talk show shots who criticize Trump and praise Cruz. Trump said the hosts are spreading incorrect information about his plan that he contends would cut taxes.
“I mean, really, like Milwaukee, they were giving big, big misinformation,” Trump said. “They were saying just the opposite. They must have gotten their information from ‘Lyin’ Ted Cruz.’”
Trump said that he has recorded a new radio commercial to set the record straight.
Democrats say that most of the Trump tax cut plan would benefit the wealthy while causing sharp declines in money needed for government services.
Trump also criticized Cruz and the other Republican candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, for their support of trade policies that Trump said have cost manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Trump also defended his recent criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The New York Times reported that Trump told the Racine crowd that “he would be fine if NATO broke up.”
Previously on the campaign trail, Trump had questioned the need for NATO and on Saturday, the newspaper reported that he “reiterated his criticism that other NATO countries were ‘not paying their fair share’ in comparison with the United States.”
With foreign policy questions likely to remain a major topic during the campaign, Trump officials announced that former U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten, of Wisconsin, has joined Trump’s foreign policy team.
Outside Racine Trump Rally. David Cole/WPR
Kasten hasn’t spoken publicly in Wisconsin very often since losing the 1992 race to Democrat Russ Feingold, but he addressed the crowd at Racine’s Memorial Hall.
“We are not part of just a political campaign. We’re part of a revolution, part of a movement, part of a change, and you are leaders of that revolution,” he said.
Kasten compared Trump’s presidential campaign to that of former President Ronald Reagan. Kasten defeated incumbent Democrat Gaylord Nelson in 1980, the same year Reagan won the race for the White House, over incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
About 30 protesters gathered outside the Racine venue, but there were no altercations reported between the Trump opponents and people in line to get into Trump’s event. Numerous law enforcement officers were on hand, both outside and inside Memorial Hall.
According to a Marquette University Law School poll released last week, Trump trails Cruz by 10 points among likely voters.
Trump leads GOP presidential candidates in Republican convention delegates.
Voter turnout in Wisconsin is expected to reach 40 percent on Tuesday, which would be the highest for a presidential primary since 1980.
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