Donald Trump

Presidential Candidates Shift Focus to Illinois

Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Kasich and Cruz all have campaign events scheduled in the state this week

With Illinois' presidential primary just over a week away, presidential hopefuls have shifted their focus to campaigning in the state.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton will hold a get-out-the-vote rally in Vernon Hills Thursday. The Park Ridge native’s trip comes just two days after her husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned in Evanston.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump will also hold a free rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Pavillion Friday.

Doors will open at 3 p.m. with the event scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

It's rare for a Republican Presidential rally in the city limits; more often the GOP holds large events like this closer to the party faithful in the suburbs.

As of Monday morning, nearly 43,000 people had signed a petition arguing the rally “has no place in Chicago but especially not at an institution of higher learning.” Students and local politicians have also planned a peaceful protest of the event, encouraging Trump critics to obtain tickets to the rally and gather outside the venue. 

The Friday event falls on the same night as an Illinois Republican Party fundraiser, which fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz has said he will attend. Other Republican presidential candidates have also been invited. It's not clear if Trump will make an appearance after his rally is over.

Also on Friday, Bernie Sanders, fresh from his upset win in Michigan Tuesday, will hold what his campaign called "an interesting contrast" to the Trump rally. The rally will be held in Summit, Illinois at Argo Community High School. It begins at 8 p.m. but doors will open at 5 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, addressed a City Club of Chicago breakfast Wednesday before visiting Cruz’s campaign field office in Homer Glen later that day.

Cruz is scheduled to headline the Northwest Suburban Lincoln Day Dinner in Rolling Meadows Friday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich declined an invitation to the event, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has yet to commit either way.

Rubio has no commitments in Illinois this week, although Conservative Solutions PAC, a super political action committee backing the senator, has spent over a half-million dollars on anti-Trump ads in Illinois. Rubio’s home state of Florida will also be decided on March 15.

Kasich appeared at a at a town hall event at a truck manufacturing company in the Chicago suburb of Lisle Wednesday, laying out his plan to improve the economy. Several hundred people filled the atrium of Navistar Inc. for the first of two events the GOP candidate held in Illinois.

Kasich also held a Town Hall at Palatine’s Park District Community Center Wednesday. 

Aside from Florida and Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio will also be hold primaries on March 15.

Trump currently leads the Republican field with 384 pledged delegates. Cruz has 300 pledged delegates, while Rubio has 151 and Kasich has 37.

Trump won Kentucky and Louisiana Saturday, while Cruz won Kansas and Maine.

Democratic presidential hopefuls have also shifted their focus to Illinois, opening campaign offices and airing TV ads.

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