Reinvigorated Trump gets a rock-star reception as he woos students to a chorus of 'Lock Her Up'
Published 03/11/2016 | 02:30
Donald Trump changed his schedule at the last minute to storm into this working-class Democrat bastion, and was cheered like a rock star by Republican students.
Mr Trump is hoping to pull off an upset here that could help propel him to the White House. Students make up the biggest proportion of undecided voters in Wisconsin and, at a raucous rally in the campus at Eau Claire, several thousand of them crammed into a sweltering basketball court to stomp their feet and chant "President Trump" and "We Love Donald".
The billionaire told the teenagers, many of them first-time voters and most of them white, that it was time for "change".
Female students brandished pink "Women For Trump" signs, medical students proclaimed themselves "Doctors for Trump" while many more students, unable to get in, listened to loudspeakers outside.
At the mere mention of Hillary Clinton they chanted "Lock her up" and "Drain the swamp", while Mr Trump called her "the candidate of the sordid past".
The last Republican presidential nominee to win over Wisconsin was Ronald Reagan in 1984. But an undaunted Mr Trump told them: "We will be the bright and clean future... America is tired of waiting."
Mrs Clinton was so confident of victory here that she has not visited once during the campaign. But Mr Trump is less than six points down in an average of recent polls. Now Mrs Clinton is running television advertisements here and her Democrat running mate, Tim Kaine, has shown up along with erstwhile challenger, Bernie Sanders. Even her daughter Chelsea is here.
However, Mr Trump's adulatory reception, from people decades younger than his usual audience, will give them all pause for thought.
Caleb Mulroy (21) a criminal justice student wrapped in a giant Trump flag, said: "He got me interested in politics, I wasn't before. There used to be a lot of support here for Bernie Sanders, but that's not the same for Hillary. I think it's moving to Trump."
Savannah Fagerland (20), here with her sister Tess (18), is "not offended at all" by Trump's derogatory comments about women. "We just love him. He's a really good man and I think he does believe in women's rights."
Outside, behind a crash barrier, several dozen anti-Trump protesters, including Hispanic and black students, gathered. Kati Dussl (28) said the atmosphere on campus had been "fairly contentious".
In his speech, Mr Trump returned to his familiar ground: there was another pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, a warning over Muslim immigration, a vow to bring back blue-collar jobs departed on a "one- way highway to Mexico and China", and a pledge to do away with Barack Obama's healthcare reforms.
He then pointed at a man holding a "Cancer Patient For Trump" sign. The students cheered wildly as Mr Trump told him: "You're going to get better, and you're going to get better fast. You look beautiful." (© Daily Telegraph, London)