FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Donald Trump railed Saturday night at a campaign rally against high property taxes and job losses in this deep-blue state, pointing to General Electric’s decision to move its headquarters to Boston from this Gold Coast town as evidence of failed Democratic leadership.
The GOP presidential nominee positioned himself as the candidate to reinvigorate the local economy, telling thousands of supporters packed into a stuffy gymnasium at Sacred Heart University that he would “cut your middle-class taxes way down.”
General Electric is moving its headquarters this year after more than four decades here.
“There are going to be consequences for companies that leave Connecticut,” Trump said, proposing a 35 percent tax on American companies that choose to make their products outside the United States in countries such as Mexico.
The Manhattan real estate mogul also said his distrust of the reporters covering his bid for the White House now eclipsed his disdain for rival Hillary Clinton, drawing jeers of agreement from supporters.
“I am not running against Crooked Hillary,” Trump said. “I am running against the crooked media.”
Trump, whose visit to the Democratic stronghold was sandwiched between stops scheduled in swing states Pennsylvania and Ohio, still had plenty of barbs for Clinton.
He called her “four more years of Obama, four more years of ISIS” and repeated his claim that President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State group. He said the Secret Service believes Clinton is “essentially crazy” and condemned her for being “totally controlled by the hedge fund people.”
Trump said, “We’re making a big move for the state of Connecticut.”
Clinton hours earlier tweeted a link from her campaign website that argued she would bring 116,000 new jobs to Connecticut while she said Trump would cost it nearly 38,000 jobs.
In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the state to Obama by 18 percentage points.
A Quinnipiac University poll from June — the most recent one available for Connecticut — showed Clinton with a 7 percentage-point edge over Trump.
Trump was not expected to be in the wealthy area this week to fill his war chest, but Clinton is scheduled to attend a $33,400-a-plate fundraiser Monday in nearby Greenwich.
A supporter who was among those who waited hours in the punishing summer heat to see Trump speak said Connecticut welcomes the candidate’s outreach.
“We respect that he respects us,” said Brian Geraghty, 67, who was raised in Bayville and is now living in Seymour, Connecticut.
Outside, the Fairfield Town Democratic Committee gathered dozens of anti-Trump protesters. Some bore signs with Clinton’s campaign logo and others held posters or banners that read, “Dump Trump,” “Disarm hate” and “Love Trumps hate.”
Democratic leaders of the state on Friday denounced Trump with a news conference in Hartford.
“This weekend, he gives Connecticut Republicans an opportunity — an opportunity to distance themselves from Donald Trump,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said, according to a video posted by the Hartford Courant. “At times like this, people should be judged by their silence as well as what they say.”