BETHPAGE, N.Y. – Donald Trump charged forward Wednesday after an embarrassing loss in the Wisconsin primary with a raucous homecoming here in New York, where he tore into his chief Republican presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, over critical comments he previously made about “New York values.”
“Do you remember during the debate when he started lecturing me on ‘New York values,’ like we’re no good?” Trump said during a rally here in Bethpage.
“I started talking to him about the World Trade Center, the bravery, the incredible bravery of everybody,” he added. “We all know people that died. And I’ve got this guy standing over there looking at me talking about New York values with scorn, distaste, with hatred, with hatred. So folks, I think you can forget about him.”
Trump and his campaign have been under intense scrutiny since their loss to Cruz in Wisconsin on Tuesday, which many believe could represent a break in the momentum that has propelled the billionaire to victory after victory this primary season. With Cruz rising in national polls, anti-Trump conservatives are hopeful that Trump’s collection of delegates will slow, making a contested convention in July likelier. In that scenario, establishment Republicans uneasy about Trump’s candidacy would seek to install a consensus candidate in his place.
The rally, where an estimated 10,000 people gathered to hear the real estate mogul speak at Grumman Studios, injected a dose of energy after lackluster campaign rallies across Wisconsin last week.
Trump is expected win in New York’s primary April 19, where he is leading polls by double-digit margin. The campaign sees that primary, in addition to a series of Eastern contests later this month, as a likely firewall after a poor showing in Wisconsin.
“It’s great to be home,” Trump said. “I love these people! These are my people!”
Ivanka Trump, who last week welcomed a baby boy to the family, introduced her father. Members of his family also attended the rally. Trump was also joined backstage by several of the 30 New York county chairs who have pledged their support to the billionaire in the state’s primary.
“Our native son is here. Our native son, a guy born and raised in New York, doesn’t apologize, he doesn’t apologize to anybody for anything America has done,” said Carl Paladino, the former New York gubernatorial candidate and one of Trump’s honorary state co-chairs, at the beginning of the rally.
Even as the Trump team faces a tough convention battle ahead, where focus has shifted to courting delegates in the case of a contested convention, he also pitched the election forward by attacking Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator.
“I will beat Hillary so badly in the general election. You heard the other day members of her team were caught saying the one person she doesn’t want to run against is Trump,” he told the crowd. “Believe me, it will be fun. It will be fun.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jose A. DelReal