Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a raucous crowd of Suffolk Republicans Thursday evening that he would reverse Long Island’s manufacturing job losses by negotiating better trade deals.
“Few regions in the country have been hurt worse than Suffolk. I don’t know why. It’s so beautiful,” Trump said at the County Republican Committee fundraiser in Patchogue.
He started to tick off manufacturing job loss numbers for Long Island before saying he couldn’t go on. “It’s too depressing. I want you to leave happy.”
More than 1,300 people packed into The Emporium, a nightclub and music venue, for the $150-per-person fundraiser. The party also offered pay-per-view online for $5.99 for the 20-minute speech.
The crowd interrupted Trump with shouts of “Build the wall!” and “Lyin’ Ted” a number of times.
Trump said of his campaign: “It’s a movement, a movement to take back our country, a movement to rebuild our military, to make it bigger, better and stronger than ever before.”
The GOP front-runner hit challenger Sen. Ted Cruz for his comment about Trump’s “New York values.”
Trump said Cruz “talked about it with such anger and hatred. He was trying to make a point against me — boy, did that hit him hard.” He said Cruz has dropped to third in some New York polls. “And No. 2, no one even knows who he is,” Trump said, referring to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump did not address calls for him to move his venue, which was near where Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was murdered in 2008. More than 120 people gathered to protest at that site Thursday afternoon.
Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle has said The Emporium was booked two months ago and all the Republican candidates were invited.
When LaValle introduced Trump, he said, “We are proud to stand behind Donald Trump.” He predicted Suffolk would give Trump his largest margin of victory in Tuesday’s primary.
The Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, pastor at The Congregational Church of Patchogue, came to hear Trump at LaValle’s invitation.
Wolter said he still believes the fundraiser should have been moved to a site farther from where Lucero was murdered, but said he wanted to listen to Trump supporters.
“I noticed the power of this audience, the dedication and fierce energy,” he said afterward. “We have to engage these people. Shouting over the barricades isn’t working.”
While the national political establishment has fretted about the potential negative effects of a Trump nomination — including his ability to win Hispanic voters in a general election — much of Long Island’s Republican establishment has embraced him. Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello endorsed Trump in March; Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and LaValle endorsed him last week.
Thursday’s fundraiser was dotted with county and town Republican leaders, including County Clerk Judith Pascale and Babylon Republican Chairman Anthony Pancella.
“Voters are telling my committeepeople when they’re knocking on doors, don’t screw Trump,” said Brookhaven Republican Chairman Jesse Garcia, who has also endorsed Trump.