INDIANAPOLIS -- Fresh from a win in the New York Republican primary, Donald Trump drew thousands of people to the Indiana State Fairgrounds Wednesday.
Trump arrived about 3 p.m., following a meeting with Gov. Mike Pence. During his speech, he turned his attention early to the issue of trade, particularly the decision by Carrier Corp. to close its Indianapolis plant and move its operations to Mexico.
"We're gonna build the wall," Trump said, drawing cheers from the audience as he referred to his pledge to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. "And you know, when Carrier, that left here, goes to Mexico and they want to sell their product, we're going to say 'sorry folks we have a nice strong border, we have a nice strong wall, we're going to charge you a 35 percent tax after what you did.'"
Trump is the first 2016 presidential candidate to make an appearance in Indiana, and comes less than two weeks before the state primary on May 3. But he won’t be the last. Sen. Ted Cruz is scheduled to speak at an Indiana Republican party fundraising dinner on Thursday, and a campaign consultant announced on Twitter Wednesday that former Ohio Gov. John Kasich would visit Indiana next Tuesday.
Trump won Tuesday’s primary in New York with 60 percent of the vote, strengthening his hold on front-runner status. Indiana could be a pivotal state for Trump to win. He needs 1,237 delegates to win the presidential nomination on the first ballot. With Tuesday’s win in New York, he now has 837, compared to 559 for Sen. Ted Cruz and 147 for Kasich.
According to the Indianapolis Star, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also traveled to Indianapolis today for a meeting with Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Trump also plans to campaign in Maryland today, where voters will go to the polls next week.
Indiana Democrats seized on the visit as an opportunity to criticize Trump, as well as the other Republican presidential hopefuls.
“Let’s be clear here. Trump didn’t really hijack the Republican Party here. This is a result of years of extreme ideology, dangerous language and divisive rhetoric coming out of the GOP,” said John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democrats, during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-7th, said that while "Trump is the GOP without the wrapping paper," singling him out for harsh rhetoric on immigration and other issues, he also took other Republican candidates to task.
“We have to make sure we don’t let other Republicans off the hook simply because of how terrible Mr. Trump has been,” Carson said.
As one of the few Muslim members of Congress, Carson has been outspoken on Trump’s call to ban any Muslim from entering the country.
“His remarks are toxic. Our country is not at war with Islam or any other religion for that matter. Our country is at war with those who seek to do us harm,” Carson said Wednesday.
Early in-person voting is happening now in Indiana and will continue through May 2 at noon. The deadline to submit an application for an absentee ballot by mail is April 25. Polls open on primary day, May 3, at 6 a.m.