JANESVILLE -- Donald Trump kicked off his first stop in Wisconsin a week away from the April 5 primary by taking shots at Gov. Scott Walker -- only hours after the former presidential candidate endorsed Ted Cruz.
Trump, speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 at the Holiday Inn Express in Janesville, jabbed at Walker for posing on his Harley-Davidson. Trump said Walker “doesn’t look like a motorcycle guy.”
Walker, whose name got booed by the audience, got some credit from Trump for taking on the Act 10 battle, though he said he’d rather have someone “make a deal without having to go through all that mess.” And Trump slammed him on the state’s economy, ticking off a list of numbers Trump said shows Walker “is not doing a great job.”
“[Wisconsin] is an incredible place, but it’s a place that has problems,” Trump said, “and you have a governor that has you convinced it doesn’t have problems.”
Trump drew more people than he expected today, leaving about 1,000 people waiting outside, police said. But Trump promised to come back to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown, saying he felt “so guilty about all the people outside.”
Ryan, though, didn’t get much love from the audience. When Trump mentioned Ryan, much of the crowd started booing him, and someone yelled “Paul RINO," referring to the “Republican In Name Only” acronym.
Leslie Spears, a registered nurse from Illinois, said that’s because Ryan has made too many compromises with President Barack Obama. Spears said she admired Walker when he took on the unions in 2011, but said he’s now indebted to the GOP donors who backed him in his election bids.
“He doesn’t strike me now as any different than anyone else in the GOP,” she said. “Now he owes them because he got all that.”
Some Walker fans, though, said Trump should’ve left those attacks out. Kevin Pope, a chef at the Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton, said Trump “didn’t really need to go there.” And Pope said he was surprised that much of the room booed Ryan and Walker.
The event was not without protesters, a few of whom got escorted out when they entered the hotel. But most of the protesters stayed outside, holding signs saying “Dump Trump” and “No Hate In Our State.”
Abril Lara, a 23-year-old Blackhawk Technical College student, said she didn’t show up at the protest to "change any minds [but] to stand up for what I believe in." Lara, who carried a sign saying she's not a rapist or a criminal, called Trump's rhetoric about Mexicans like her "very sad."
"If that's what makes this country great, then this country has nothing," she said.
Trump also criticized former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who picked Ryan as his running mate. Trump said Romney “should just go away and let the big boys do it now.” And he slammed his two GOP opponents, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The two, he said, can’t be tough against the pharmaceutical industry, the banking industry and others because they’ve taken millions of dollars from them.
Cruz, he told the crowd, is getting more and more of the establishment support “including your governor.” But Cruz has alienated his Senate colleagues and can’t list a single accomplishment there, Trump said.
“He’s sort of got the worst of all elements,” Trump said. “He’s an insider, totally, but he can get nothing done.”
He also addressed allegations that his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed a female reporter at a rally. Lewandowski was charged by the Jupiter Police Department in Florida today with a misdemeanor battery charge.
Trump called him a “wonderful guy” and let his supporters weigh in with their accounts of what the tape of the incident shows. The tape, he said, showed she didn’t flinch and wasn’t grabbed.
“Maybe he touched her a little bit, but it was almost like he was trying to keep her off me, right?” Trump said. After pausing a bit to listen to a supporter, he said, “Like he was helping her, right?”
Lewandowski, he said, has a “beautiful wife and children, and I’m not gonna destroy a man for that.”
Asked about education, Trump said he’ll be “terminating Common Core.” Wisconsin’s education standards, he said, shouldn’t be aligned with whatever D.C. bureaucrats with “big, fat salaries” think.
He also slammed Obama for giving too much of his foreign policy strategy away, saying he wants to “knock the hell out of ISIS [but] don’t wanna tell the world what I’m gonna do.”
And he said he backs free trade as long as it’s “good trade for us.”
“The Hispanics, I love the Hispanics, but their leaders are killing us on the border, and they’re killing us on trade,” said Trump, who later appeared at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee that also featured Cruz and Kasich. “I’m not angry at them. I’m angry at our country and our leadership because it’s grossly incompetent, and we’re gonna change it around.”