INDIANAPOLIS — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump received a rapturous reception from some 3,000 Hoosiers at the state fairgrounds Wednesday as the billionaire businessman asked for their votes in Indiana's May 3 primary election.
"Come out and vote and vote big," Trump said. "Because when you cast that vote our country is going to start winning again."
In particular, Trump promised to win against Chinese steel dumping that's threatening the jobs of Northwest Indiana steelworkers.
He similarly pledged to slap a 35 percent tariff on U.S. companies, like Indianapolis' Carrier Corp., that move overseas and then sell their foreign-made products back in America.
"Our country is being taken advantage of and eventually our country is going to be in such trouble," Trump said.
"I would never use the word that our country is going to die, but it's going to be a much different place if we don't get smart very, very quickly on trade."
During his 55-minute speech, Trump also vowed — without specifying how — to beef up the military, improve veterans benefits, limit immigration, reformed the "rigged" and "crooked" Republican nominating process, revive the use of waterboarding and "get rid of ISIS so fast that your head will spin."
The loudest cheers came when Trump reiterated his promise to build a $10 billion wall on the U.S-Mexico border to prevent individuals from entering the country illegally.
"Believe me, that wall is getting built," Trump said.
That prompted audience chants of "Build that wall, build that wall, build that wall," followed by "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A."
As is customary, Trump was interrupted at least seven times by protesters who quickly were escorted by police out of the Blue Ribbon Pavilion.
But unlike Trump's March 11 Chicago rally, which had to be cancelled due to opposition, the Hoosier hecklers were so meek that it even took Trump by surprise.
"Boy, these protesters aren't very tough around here. I don't know, I'm a little disappointed at Indiana. I say 'get him out' and he walks out," Trump said.
A Trump victory in Indiana's primary would earn him a significant share of the state's 57 Republican delegates and get him closer to a first-ballot nomination at the party's national convention in July.
Prior to the rally, Trump met with Republican Gov. Mike Pence at the Governor's Residence on the north side of Indianapolis. They were joined by Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump ally.
Trump declared afterward, "We love Indiana." He then pointed at Pence and said, "He's doing a great job."
Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said the governor — who also is on the ballot this year — hopes the election will give Pence "a partner in the White House who will help advance pro-growth economic policies, reduce burdensome regulation and curb the size and scope of government."
The governor is set to meet with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at an Indiana Republican Party fundraiser Thursday night and expected to meet with Ohio Gov. John Kasich next week.
Pence has yet to endorse or indicate which of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates he plans to support in the primary.