Declaring that his campaign was gaining momentum in Illinois, Sen. Ted Cruz told a packed crowd in a suburban Chicago banquet hall he is the only candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton in November.
In making that claim, Cruz cautioned voters in suburban Glen Ellyn that a Trump candidacy would guarantee a Clinton victory. He wove an elaborate conspiracy scenario, where television networks were giving hours of air time to Trump in hopes of guaranteeing his nomination.
"Because the network executives are all partisan Democrats," he warned, "they are ready for Hillary and they recognize Donald Trump may be the only candidate Hillary could beat in the general election."
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Cruz also mocked Trump for past contributions to prominent Chicago Democrats.
"Donald Trump gave $7,000 to Rod Blagojevich," he said. "Donald Trump gave $12,500 to the Cook County Democratic Party. And Donald Trump, amazingly, gave $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel."
A check of state campaign records confirmed those numbers. Trump also contributed $10,000 to former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, and another $5,000 to Democratic alderman Brendan Reilly, shortly after opening his Trump Chicago hotel in Reilly’s 42nd ward.
"Has anyone here ever woken up with a sudden and irrepressible desire to give seven grand to Blago?" Cruz asked the crowd, to roars of laughter.
During questioning by reporters, the Texas senator passed on a question about violent skirmishes at recent Trump events.
"Protesters have no right to engage in violence," he said. "They’re simply trying to terrorize political speech that is not their right — it is wrong!"
Moments later, Cruz had a chance to test his own response, when an animal rights protester disrupted his remarks.
"Thank you for being here, and thank you for expressing your free speech," Cruz told the woman. "You have a first amendment right to speak, but you don’t have a first amendment right to shout down others."
Security officers removed the woman from the hall.