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Portage County Tea Party leader says party backs Trump

by Marc kovac | Capital Bureau Chief Published: August 31, 2016 12:11 PM

Columbus -- Tom Zawistowski wasn't a Donald Trump supporter before Ohio's primary election earlier this year.

The head of the Portage County Tea Party backed Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Other Tea Party leaders around the state were behind retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

But Trump is the Republican nominee, and Zawistowski and others in the movement in Ohio made it clear Aug. 27 that he's their choice for the White House.

Trump, Zawistowski said, is surrounding himself with people who Tea Party groups support, and the billionaire businessman is on the same page on an array of issues.

"We want our constitution, we want freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, we want our Second Amendment rights, we want freedom of religion," Zawistowski said. "When you look at the candidates, it's very clear there's a difference between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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"Do I want Donald Trump as my next door neighbor? Probably not/ but the point is that he's surrounded himself with a lot of people that we do like. He's come out with Supreme Court justices -- that's obviously huge for us."

Zawistowski offered the comments Aug. 27 at a suburban Columbus church, where Tea Party groups and like-minded voters gathered to launch Ohio's Tea Party for Trump (online at TeaPartyForTrump.org). Several hundred people were on hand and vocal in their support of Trump and opposition to Clinton.

Their bottom-line message: It'll take a concerted effort to ensure Ohio backs Trump in November.

Bob Paduchik, the Ohio campaign director for Trump for President, who participated in the weekend event, said the Buckeye State could be decided by fewer than 100,000 votes.

"Which means the work that you and other patriots do in this state is going to be critical in deciding who are next president is," he said.

That's where the new website and Tea Party for Trump groups come into the picture, providing a means for volunteers to sign up to work phone banks, knock on doors or do anything else that needs to be done as part of the election -- a campaign that Zawistowski called "a fight like no other fight."

He was not concerned about indications in recent days that Trump could soften his position in immigration policy. There's going to be movement on that and other issues, he said.

"In business, you ask for the moon and then you negotiate back," Zawistowski said. "We wish he would be a little firmer on [immigration policy], OK. But we're going to see that there's going to be a lot of things that are not what they say. We're most interested in who's he surrounding himself with, and the people he seems to be surrounding himself with are people we like."

He added, "We think overall he will actually be better than [Republicans] we've elected. Will he go back on some of the things he's said? Yeah, I'm sure he will. Like I said, Donald Trump is not somebody that I personally like/ but I think he will act in our best interests, and that's why we're supporting him.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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