WATERBURY, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A confident Donald Trump said he’s “not toning it down,” a day after his chief adviser assured Republican officials the GOP front-runner will show more restraint.
Donald Trump’s chief lieutenants told skeptical Republican leaders earlier this week that the GOP front-runner had been “projecting an image” so far in the 2016 primary season and “the part that he’s been playing is now evolving” in a way that will improve his standing among general election voters.
The message, delivered behind closed doors in a private briefing, was part of the campaign’s intensifying effort to convince party leaders Trump will moderate his tone in the coming months to help deliver big electoral gains this fall, despite his contentious ways.
Trump received huge cheers from a crowd of 3,000 in Waterbury, Connecticut, when he asked, “Isn’t it nice that I’m not one of these teleprompter guys?”
Trump said it’s “very easy to be presidential,” before making a series of faux serious faces.
“I think I have a presidential look, don’t I?” Trump said to the crowd.
Known for his over-the-top persona, Trump assured the crowd he can be serious but said that he’s got to be different “talking to you people.”
Aside from Trump, other presidential candidates are stepping up visits to Connecticut before Tuesday’s primary, as well as looking towards future contests with events in other states.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton also campaigned in Connecticut on Saturday, where she held a round-table event in New Haven with working families to discuss the need to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour. Clinton also discussed her policy proposals to provide equal pay for women.
Former president Bill Clinton also campaigned on behalf of his wife Saturday, with two events in Pennsylvania.
Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, spoke to a boisterous crowd of mostly young people in Baltimore where he railed against big banks and highlighted his differences with Clinton on everything from the minimum wage to free trade agreements.
He hammered at “disastrous trade policies,” describing them as not a sexy issue but an important issue, saying that “we are seeing corporation after corporation shut down in the United States throw millions of workers out in the street, people who are earning a living wage.”
“I oppose every one of these disastrous trade agreements. She supported almost every one of them,” he said, referring to Clinton, to a chorus of cheers.
Sanders’ campaign announced Friday the Democratic candidate will appear on the New Haven Green for a rally on Sunday with REM front man Michael Stipe, and at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford for a rally on Monday.
On the Republican side, John Kasich held a town hall event Saturday at Bryant University in Smithfield, where he urged voters to reject Trump.
The Ohio governor kicked off the rally by telling the crowd of about 750 they were “made special” and “made for a purpose.”
He had a sharp exchange with a student in the crowd who asked Kasich how the candidate’s plans to lower the budget deficit would impact student loan debt. Kasich shot back by asking 18-year-old Nick Celico, of Westerly, why he hadn’t gone to community college. Kasich later said college costs are too high.
Ted Cruz spent time campaigning in Pennsylvania Saturday, before heading to Indiana for events in Plainfield and Indianapolis.
Speaking to reporters Saturday in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Cruz said Trump was “embracing the lunatic fringe of political correctness.”
Cruz said, “it is not complicated that someone wants to have a separate bathroom” adding “that’s the choice of the given location, of the given local government to allow that, to provide for that.”
Pressed on whether he believes transgendered people are real by a reporter saying, “I’m just trying to understand,” Cruz responded “No you’re not” but wouldn’t answer the question.
Connecticut is one of five states holding presidential primaries Tuesday. A Quinnipiac University Poll shows Kasich trailing Trump 48-28 percent, with 19 percent supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The poll’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
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