INDIANAPOLIS — A Hancock County resident shared the stage with presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis.
Surrounded by a sea of red, white and blue decorations and thousands of Hoosiers who showed up to support the Republican candidate in his bid for the U.S. presidency, Carolyn Flynn of Cumberland led the crowd of supporters in the pledge of allegiance.
The campaign rally for Trump, which was held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, was the first stop any presidential candidate has made in Indiana this election season.
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Trump’s visit comes two weeks ahead of the May 3 primary, when Indiana voters will have their chance to cast a ballot in favor of their preferred candidates ahead of the November General Election.
Historically, Indiana hasn’t had much influence in the primary election because candidates have usually gained enough delegate support to secure their party’s nomination before Indiana’s late primary.
But this year, Indiana’s 57 delegates could make or break Trump’s hunt for the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican Party’s nomination.
Currently, Trump has received 845 delegate votes; Texas senator Ted Cruz trails with 559.
During the rally, Trump railed against competing candidates, particularly Cruz, who will arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow to raise support for his own campaign.
He also spoke about the need to build up the nation’s armed forces and the need to re-evaluate trade deals with other countries.
He was particularly critical of Carrier Corp. and its parent company United Technologies Corp., an Indianapolis manufacturer that announced in February it would lay off about 2,100 workers and send jobs to Mexico.
Trump said he would impose a 35 percent import tax on manufacturers, like Carrier, that choose to move jobs out of the country.
“When Carrier goes to Mexico and they want to sell their product across the border, we’re going to say ‘Sorry, folks,’” Trump said.
Flynn, a retired Army veteran who has been canvassing for the candidate in Hancock County, said she was offered the opportunity to lead the pledge Tuesday afternoon, just 24 hours before Trump was expected to take the stage.
Since the Trump campaign opened an office in Hamilton County a little more than a week ago, Flynn said she’s spent several hours volunteering for the campaign, distributing yard signs and bumper stickers to dozens of county residents.
She said she’s been encouraged by the support she’s encountered for Trump, most of which comes from residents who are displeased by other candidates’ messages.
She agrees with Trump’s approach to politics, even though some people find it brash and unappealing.
“I think it’s time for this country to be shaken up and for our president to speak plainly and stand for something,” Flynn said, adding that she was honored for the opportunity to play a part in his rally.
Nationwide, Trump rallies have become a hotbed for protesters who oppose the candidate’s position on several key issues.
Sen. Cruz is expected to arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow to raise support for his own campaign ahead of the May election, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is also expected to visit the Hoosier state ahead of the primary.
Flynn said she plans to continue building support for Trump in coming weeks.
“It’s very exciting for me to see Indiana having a voice in this election, and I hope it’s loud and clear in favor of Trump.”