GOP frontrunner Donald Trump held a town hall at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center in Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin on Tuesday evening.
Trump knocked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) earlier in the day, and the crowd booed when Trump mentioned Walker’s name.
“Total state debt is 45-billion dollars…very high, one of the higher ones. Twenty-thousand fewer people in labor force than seven years ago,” even though population has grown, Trump stated as he read aloud statistics about Wisconsin.
Trump noted he was unsure if these statistics were accurate, but went on to say, “He’s not doing a great job.”
“He doesn’t look like a motorcycle guy to me,” Trump mocked of Walker, who rides motorcycles.
Trump continued, “Unemployment rate, they have down 20 percent. That can’t be possible?”
“800,000 food stamp recipients,” Trump listed, “Middle class hit very, very hard due to loss of manufacturing jobs.”
“Wisconsin has lost 15,000 jobs to Mexico since NAFTA,” Trump charged about the North American Free Trade Agreement. “Kasich…he voted for NAFTA.”
“Both of them want TPP,” Trump said, referencing Kasich and Walker, who both support President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. “That will make NAFTA look like a baby.”
“He’s a nice man,” Trump added about Walker, but then noted, “I gave him a lot of money” when he was fighting to be elected in Wisconsin.
He said Walker later visited Trump and gave him a plaque, “so, I’ll bring it,” Trump told the crowd. He noted that he is spending the week campaigning in Wisconsin, so he’ll bring the plaque when he returns.
Washington Post’s Dave Weigel noted that at least 4,000 people were in line to get into the venue to hear Trump speak, but it only held about 1,000 people.
“’I’m doing this all for them,” Trump said about his campaign, referencing his grandchildren. “It’s a message of competence.”
“If we win Wisconsin, it’s going to be pretty much over,” Trump declared. “I really want to win Wisconsin.”
“How do you like Paul Ryan?” Trump asked the audience, who booed in response.
Trump appearing surprised, said, “Wow, I was told be nice to Paul Ryan.”
Towards the end of the town hall, Trump took questions from the audience, but one was a declaration of appreciation rather than a question.
“I’ve been struggling with an incurable illness. I’m on home care now,” Miss Wisconsin USA 2005 Melissa Young said to Trump. “In those dark days fighting … I received from you a hand written letter from you that said, ‘To the bravest woman I know.’”
“I’m here right now to thank you in person,” she added. “My son who is Mexican-American … through your organization … ultimately, provided my son when he graduates from high school [with] a full ride to college.”
Trump then came off the stage and hugged the woman.