By Shelby Mullis
INDIANAPOLIS — Thousands of Hoosiers rallied—many for and some against—Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he made his first stop in Indiana, only 14 days before the state’s primary.
Although his original visit to Indiana was scheduled for two weeks later, Trump said it was time for him to come now.
“You know, I’m self-funding my campaign. So when I come here, I come here,” he told the thousands of supporters at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Wednesday.
Trump, the front-runner in the race, made his goal clear at the Indianapolis rally: to make America great again.
“We’re going to bring our country back,” Trump said. “When it comes time for Indiana to vote, you’re going to go vote and you’re going to look back at that vote, and you’re going to say—that was the single, greatest, most important vote that you’ve ever cast.”
Throughout the rally, Trump focused on Carrier Corporation and the company’s plans to relocate more than 1,400 jobs to Mexico.
“You’re looking at a situation in our country where our jobs are being ripped out of our states… like candy from a baby,” Trump said. “We’re losing them to Mexico. We’re losing them to so many other places, and we cannot, as a country, allow this to happen again and it’s happening to you.”
Trump said when Carrier officially moves to Mexico and tries to sell their products back to the United States, he is going to charge them a 35 percent tax as punishment.
While reading off a list of Indiana statistics, Trump said he is also making it a goal to bring back Indiana’s coal and steel industries.
“Few states in America have seen income declines more than Indiana,” Trump said. “One of the reasons is because of our jobs being gone.”
Patti Mahoney of Noblesville said it is the candidate’s plan for jobs that attracts her most.
“I think he’s got a plan for jobs,” Mahoney said. “I want our jobs back. I have two 20-something-year-old sons and it’s really hard to find jobs.”
Nicholas Gonzalez, a veteran, made a last minute decision to volunteer at the rally when he and his family stopped in Trump’s Indianapolis campaign office for information on how to get involved.
“I’m very aware of all the controversial statements he’s made, but when you look at it from the excitement of bringing people into the political process—that’s the greatest display of American democracy,” Gonzalez said. “And to see that the people have chosen this candidate, then maybe we should learn a little bit more about him and what he is actually going to do.”
Trump said it’s up to America to build a stronger military that will keep people from messing with the country. He added that if he becomes the president, he will take care of the veterans that have “not been taken care of properly.
Gonzalez, who lives in Carmel, said it is Trump’s concern for U.S. veterans that attracts him to the candidate.
“[The veterans administration] can always use improvement, but the only candidate talking about doing something and making it better is Trump,” Gonzalez said. “Not saying it was ever bad, but he’s making it better. Love or hate, this candidate is actually talking about it and bringing light to it and making it an issue.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, John Crawford of Indianapolis joined hundreds of other protestors in rallying against Trump.
“We can all have different political views, but when someone endorses hate and violence against those that are different than them, I can’t get with that,” Crawford said. “We’re black. That’s protest. All you have to do is be black at a Trump rally.”
Trump said he was not impressed with the Hoosier protestors.
“Boy, these protestors aren’t very tough around here — that’s good,” Trump said. “I’m a little disappointed in Indiana. I say, ‘Get him out,’ and he walks out. Pretty easy.”
Following the rally, nearly two dozen Indiana State Troopers separated the protestors from the Trump supporters exiting the building.
Visit with Pence
Just before he hit the stage at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon, Trump met with Gov. Mike Pence to discuss future plans for the state and country.
“Gov. Pence was pleased to welcome Mr. Trump back to Indiana and hear firsthand his plans for the country,” Kara Brooks, Pence’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Pence expressed a desire to work with the next president to “advance pro-growth economic policies, reduce burdensome regulation and curb the size and scope of government,” according to Brooks.
The governor has yet to endorse any candidate in the race.
The Race Continues
As the May 3 primary approaches, the other two candidates in the race are headed to Indiana in hopes of winning the state’s 57 delegates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Indianapolis Thursday and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will arrive in Indiana Tuesday.
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.