From Cleveland, Ohio –
In a bid to grab hold of the Republican nomination, Donald Trump used two rallies in Ohio on Saturday to take dead aim at this state’s Governor, urging thousands of voters to rebuke John Kasich at the polls on Tuesday in the Buckeye State.
“I have to still get rid of this Kasich guy,” Trump said at the International Exposition Center, just next to the Cleveland airport.
“He said he’s going to win Ohio,” Trump said of Kasich. “I don’t think so. I really don’t think so,” Trump said to cheers.
There was no hint of any security troubles like those that had led to the cancellation of a Friday night rally in Chicago; instead there were just the usual number of anti-Trump demonstrators who would surface from time to time during Trump’s speech.
“Get ’em out,” Trump would often say with disdain in his voice.
“It’s a Bernie person!” he said a few other times, referring to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
Trump defended his supporters, arguing they shouldn’t have their first amendment freedoms abridged by Trump opponents.
“My people aren’t violent,” Trump said at one point.
Most of the faceoffs in the crowd were not readily visible from the press area – because we are cordoned off and not allowed into the crowds – but one mini-protest did happen not far from where I was standing.
As for Trump, after being reserved in Thursday night’s debate in Florida, the bluster, the swagger, and the name-calling were back here in Cleveland.
“Little Marco,” he said repeatedly, referring to Marco Rubio. “He’s a choker.”
“Lyin’ Ted,” Trump said sarcastically a few times about Ted Cruz, repeating his old line about Cruz raising up the Bible and then lying to the voters.
Despite the interruptions from demonstrators, most of those in the crowd – put at 29,000 by Trump – were thrilled to see their candidate.
“He’s not a part of the establishment, and that’s where he is gaining his support,” said Ronald Borish of Cleveland, who works on the assembly line for Ford Motor Company.
“I’m campaigning for Trump in the plant,” Borish told me. “I’m very enthused.”
“I like how he presents himself,” said Frederick James of Avon Lake, Ohio. “It’s been a long time under Barack Obama.”
One woman I interviewed had driven several hours from central Pennsylvania with her teenage son; she was a Trump fan, he was a kid interested because of his high school AP government class.
“This is a historic moment,” said the woman, who would only tell me her first name, Lisa. “I’ve been waiting for years for the public to get energized.”
Trump will be back again in Ohio on Sunday afternoon, setting a rally for the suburbs of Cincinnati.