ROCHESTER — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a packed aircraft hangar here that, “the American dream is dead” and cited upstate New York’s long moribund economy as proof.
He then drew cheers by promising thousands of supporters that he would bring back jobs to New York state “like you never, ever saw before.”
“You are going to be so proud of your president — I don’t care about that — but you are going to be proud of your country again,” Trump said campaigning for the April 19 New York primary. “The American dream is dead, but we are going to make America great again.”
In a wide-ranging speech, the Manhattan developer again slammed China, Japan, South Korea and Germany for failing to compensate the U.S. for its military protection and warned the Republican and Democratic national committees against taking delegates away from him and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton.
But the billionaire businessman focused most of his hourlong address before nearly 10,000 people — with thousands more turned away — on the economy. Dozens of “dump Trump” protesters outside the event picketed, while his speech was interrupted twice by protesters inside the facility. No serious conflicts were reported.
“Rochester and upstate New York have been decimated, OK?” Trump said. “Decimated . . . I guess that’s why I’m killing everyone in New York in the polls. Why wouldn’t I? Because these politicians are all talk and no jobs.”
Rochester and Western New York were hit hard by job and population losses as some of the nation’s marquee names — Xerox, Kodak, Bausch and Lomb- reduced work forces and moved some operations to Southern states and abroad in recent decades.
In her successful 2000 run for the U.S. Senate, Clinton had promised to create 200,000 new jobs upstate. Those jobs never materialized and a net loss actually was recorded in her first term.
While campaigning in Republican strongholds, Trump has said he would have approved hydrofracking for natural gas trapped deep in an upstate shale deposit. Environmentalists argued the process threatens drinking water supplies and can trigger earthquakes and Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo stopped a renewed effort to allow the lucrative drilling.
Trump again referred to his closest rival for the GOP nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, as “lyin’ Ted,” but then told the conservative crowd that Trump shares a plight with Sanders, the Democratic socialist senator from Vermont. Trump said he and Sanders are each being denied a fair shot at delegates.
“It’s a crooked system, folks,” Trump told the group. “I’m not a fan of Bernie, I couldn’t care less about Bernie, but he wins, he wins like me.”
Trump again complained that some states, such as Louisiana, used a system to take away some of his delegates based on state party rules.
Sanders faces a long shot at beating Clinton who has won the biggest state primaries and is backed by “super delegates” most of whom are elected officials and party leaders.
In New York, Republican leaders changed the process that appears to provide a way to minimize Trump’s chance of taking away almost all of New York’s 95 delegates. Trump has 743 of the 1,237 delegates needed to seal the GOP nomination and a big win in New York, his home state, could stall a surge by Cruz who surprisingly pummeled Trump in the Wisconsin primary this month.
“It’s supposed to be a democracy where a vote means something,” Trump said. “Today, winning votes doesn’t mean anything . . . it’s not right, folks, because what they are doing and whether it’s me or Bernie Sanders . . . it’s a corrupt deal going on in this country.”