Ted Cruz speaks in Loop, Rolling Meadows; protest blocks traffic

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (WLS) -- GOP presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz received a standing ovation at the annual northwest suburban Lincoln Day Dinner.

"This is a sad day," Cruz said. "Political discourse should occur in this country without a threat of violence."

Before his speech, Cruz blamed protesters for the unrest at Donald Trump's UIC rally, but said Trump himself bears some responsibility too.

"When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discord," he said.

All of the GOP presidential candidates were invited to speak. But only Senator Cruz accepted. The organizer of the event says this is a time of great energy for the Illinois GOP.

"Because this is a few days from the primary, it's phenomenal. We had so many people who called after it was sold out that we had to have a waiting list of people who wanted to come to the dinner, so it's going to be a great event tonight," said Joe Folisi, chair, Northwest Suburban Republican Lincoln Day Dinner.

Cruz is making the case that Senator Marco Rubio and Governor John Kasich should drop out of the race, setting up a two-candidate showdown for the GOP nomination.

"We are campaigning hard for support here in Illinois," Cruz said. "This race has now become a two-man race, there are only two candidates who have any credible path to becoming the Republican nominee."

Earlier Friday, Cruz attended a fundraiser for Illinois Republicans at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, which was also attended by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

During the fundraiser, about 150 protesters blocked traffic briefly during rush hour on East Monroe between State and Wabash.

Before coming to the Chicago area, Senator Cruz held a rally Friday in Florida, where he was joined by former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who is now endorsing his candidacy. Cruz made the case that opponent Donald Trump is unelectable in a general election.

"I would encourage the people of Florida, I would encourage people voting across this country - in Ohio, in Missouri, in Illinois, in North Carolina - if you don't think Donald Trump is the best candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton, then join us," Cruz said.

Cruz repeated a message tonight that he's been hammering in recent days, that Trump stands no chance in the general election, saying, "Hillary Clinton wallops Donald Trump."
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