Trump, GOP leaders campaign in Eau Claire

Published: Nov. 1, 2016 at 6:56 PM CDT
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For the first time since campaigning ahead of the Wisconsin presidential primary six months ago, Republican nominee Donald Trump made a stop in Eau Claire.

Trump appeared with an all-star troupe of backers Tuesday at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. University Police estimated 3,000 people were inside to hear Trump's speech, with another 1,500-2,000 outside.

“Great people. Great state,” Trump said, as he prepared to start his address.

Trump used Tuesday’s speech to go after Democrat rival Hillary Clinton and say that if she is elected on Nov. 8, "…the work of government would grind to an unbelievable, unglorious halt."

The last time Trump was in Eau Claire was April 2, when he spoke at Memorial High School three days before losing in the Wisconsin primary to challenger – Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas. On that day, Democrat presidential challenger – Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont – spoke to more than 3,500 in Zorn Arena. Clinton also appeared that day at the Lismore Hotel downtown.

Trump also chimed in on one of the latest releases from Wikileaks, accusing interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile of providing primary debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“If that happened to me, it would be a double electric chair,” he said.

With seven days to go before Election Day, recent polls have shown the race between Trump and Clinton tightening. The latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election tracking poll shows Clinton with a 6-point lead over Trump.

“We’re sort-of way up everywhere,” he said. "We're on the cusp of something incredible - historic change that transfers power from a failed political establishment and returns that power to our families, communities and citizens. It's going to happen."

Trump opened his address by proclaiming "Real change that begins immediately repealing and replacing Obamacare - a total disaster. Total disaster."

He then pointed to a person in the crowd wearing a shirt which said "Minnesota cancer patient for Trump" and remarked: "You're going to get better, OK? You're going to get better fast. You look beautiful."

The GOP candidate's speech also included comments about trade and the economy.

"A Trump administration will stop the jobs from leaving America and we will stop the jobs from leaving Wisconsin," he said. "We'll work with your governor who's a great, great governor and we're going to stop it.

"The theft - and that's what it is - of American prosperity will come to a very rapid end. From now on, it's going to be America first."

Trump was introduced by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who ran against him for the Republican presidential nomination, before being the first candidate to bow out of the race.

"He is tough. He is brutal," Trump said of Walker. "I want to be very respectful. He is one tough cookie. So, to Governor Walker, I want to thank you – tremendous, tremendous competitor – and we're with him forever."

Walker came out to display a “W” with his thumbs and index fingers to salute the state of Wisconsin, but also to pump the crowd in Zorn Arena hoping for a victory as he introduced Trump.

"If we had a Republican in the White House, a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the United States Senate, think of the things we can do," Walker said. "Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president, but we need your help on November 8 to make sure that doesn't happen."

Current head of the Republican National Committee – Reince Priebus also took to the stage in the Blugolds’ arena. The former Wisconsin state senator and state GOP chair took aim at the comparisons between the two major candidates for president.

"We know that Donald Trump is not politically correct. Look at Hillary Clinton - a person that can remember every transgression, every quote, everything that's come out of Donald Trump's mouth," he said. "But, when she was asked about something important by the FBI – something that actually matters in this country – 39 times, she's said 'I don't recall.'"

The night also marked the first time Sen. Ron Johnson campaigned for Trump. Johnson is in a fight for a second term in the U.S. Senate against the man he defeated in 2010 – former Sen. Russ Feingold.

“This is a fight for freedom. It’s our fight. It’s one that we absolutely must win,” Johnson said.

Along with the currently-elected Republican officials, two other noted backers of Trump were part of the troupe taking to the Zorn Arena stage. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani used his to not only tout Trump, but lash out at his competitor – Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Donald Trump is going to change the direction in this county, but he’s not going to be able to do that by himself,” Giuliani said. “Maybe he can, I don’t know.

“We can’t allow her in the White House. We can’t have another Watergate.”

Appearing once again in a classic arena, former college basketball coach Bobby Knight stumped for Trump.

“How many of you would like to see a big change now?” Knight asked the crowd “Well, that's what Donald Trump is all about.”