Defiant Trump doubles down on conspiracy claims

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Seemingly unfazed by recent controversy surrounding his presidential campaign, a defiant Donald Trump Monday doubled down on claims that he is the target of a conspiracy to keep him out of office.

In a speech to about 3,000 people at the KI Convention Center, the Republican nominee stressed his familiar talking points — retaining jobs, limiting immigration and repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act — while mixing in a proposal to curtail the influence of government lobbyists.

“We’re going to create millions of jobs by unleashing American energy,” Trump declared. “Your job will come back under a Trump administration … your incomes will go way up, your taxes will go way down.”

Three weeks before the election, Trump arrived in Green Bay trailing DemocratHillary Clinton by 7 points in Wisconsin, but leading by 16 in the Green Bay media market. Nationally, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this weekend shows Trump trailing by 11 points among likely voters.

Trump, though, dismissed those numbers, saying the only poll that matters is the one taking place on election day.

“Polls are great, but there’s like an undercurrent that you can’t poll,” he said. “People don’t want to say (to pollsters) they’re voting for Trump, but we’ll take (the votes) any way we can get it.”

Speakers urged the audience to ignore media reports that say Trump’s support has been flagging since lewd remarks he made about women in 2005 came to light earlier this month.

“Stay strong, find new voters and get them to the polls,” urged Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., who helped introduce Trump. Clarke, elected as a Democrat, is an avowed Trump-backer.

Green Bay resident Brad Hopp, the father of a young daughter, dismissed the candidate’s remarks about grabbing women as “locker-room talk.” Hopp said he is more interested in supporting a candidate who will secure the country’s borders, appoint Supreme Court justices who will follow the Constitution and favor “hand-ups rather than handouts.”

“I’m not looking for perfection,” Hopp said from beneath a “Make America Great Again” cap he had purchased for $20. “I’m looking for someone who’s going to fix this country.”

One way Trump said he hopes to change things is to limit the influence of lobbyists in Washington. He vowed to prohibit government officials from lobbying the federal government for at least five years after they leave office, ban senior officials of the executive branch from lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, and prohibit foreign lobbyists from playing a financial role in American elections.

In a speech of roughly 45 minutes, Trump was interrupted a number of times — often by supporters who chanted his name or a campaign slogan, but also a half-dozen times by protesters.

One screaming woman interrupted the speech by pulling handfuls of fake dollar bills marked “Trump Hates Animals, Too” from inside her shirt and casting them toward reporters while seated on a companion’s shoulders. When other protesters emerged, Trump supporters chanted the candidate’s name until the person was removed.

Green Bay Police Lt. Brad Strouf said six protesters were ejected from the event; two were escorted out before Trump took the stage. No arrests were necessary, Strouf said.

Paul Graner of Wabasha, Minn., said he has voted for Democrats in the past, but liked parts of Trump’s message. Graner had been visiting Green Bay and decided to check out the rally when he saw people waiting in line outside the convention center.

“I wanted to hear him talk about illegal immigration,” Graner said. “We’ve got to stop that (stuff).”

Supporters who arrived early milled around the stage in the hours before Trump’s scheduled arrival, listening to classic rock music. A number held Trump/Pence campaign signs; a few held signs saying “Wisconsin Women Love Trump.”

The soundtrack was occasionally broken by chants of “CNN sucks!” — a reference to the Trump camp’s dislike of the coverage it has received from the cable network — and “Lock her up!” The latter is a reference to the belief held by a number of Trump supporters that Clinton should be prosecuted for her use of a personal email server while she was U.S. Secretary of State.

Earlier in the day, a pair of Wisconsin Democratic leaders urged Republicans to renounce Trump in the wake of allegations that he groped women, and Trump’s repeated claims that the election has been rigged to elect Clinton.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. congressional candidate Tom Nelson held a news conference at the Democratic Party of Brown County office.

“Whether it’s the vile words that we saw and heard in the video released a little bit over a week ago, the women who have come forward with specific accusations against Donald Trump, whether it’s his mantra, it seems, this past weekend with this delusional charge that the elections in America are going to be rigged, we have seen over the last year how dark his soul is,” Baldwin said. “Now, we’re seeing just how dangerous he is as a man and certainly on the ballot as a potential president and commander in chief.”

Before the rally, Trump spoke to Fox News’ Carl Cameron, who asked about the alleged sexual assaults.

“First of all, they are all lies,” Trump said. “They are made up stories, they were fabricated. Whether they like Hillary or whether they just want to become a little bit famous or something.

Trump told Cameron “It would be very easy to apologize, but you can’t apologize for an event that never took place. These events never took place.”

Northeastern Wisconsin is important to Trump’s campaign both for his established support, and because it has a higher percentage of independent, persuadable voters than other parts of the state.

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