Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail this week with not one rally but four — including an event in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Wednesday — as he looks to catch rival Ted Cruz in a key midwestern state, one of the rare states where Cruz has an edge over Trump in the polls.
Scroll down this page to see a full replay of Trump's rally in Appleton.
Though Trump had not held a campaign rally since March 19 before opening his "Trump Train" tour of Wisconsin on Tuesday — when he held a rally in Janesville, the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan — the frontrunner was never far from the lead story on most outlets during his entire hiatus.
In particular, a bizarre and ugly spat in which Trump insulted Heidi Cruz, the wife of Ted Cruz, brought new focus on Trump's attitude toward women, with even conservatives confronting him over his history of degrading comments — comments that, on Monday, he appeared to laugh off by saying that when he made many of them, "I never thought I would run for office."
Trump said that widely publicized comments regarding the appearance of certain women, and others he hoped to have sex with, made during interviews with radio host Howard Stern were all in fun, and that even women enjoyed them.
"Many people, you know, Howard Stern would interview me, and everybody would be having fun and the women would be laughing," Trump told a local conservative radio talk show host in Wisconsin. "I thought this was actually a dead issue until I just spoke to you."
Also on Wednesday, Trump's campaign manager, 42-year-old Corey Lewandowski, was arrested and charged with battery against a female reporter for the conservative news site Breitbart — a site that has been firmly behind Donald Trump from the start of the campaign. But that incident also appeared to leave Trump unfazed.
Donald Trump on his campaign manager: "I don't discard people. I stay with people" https://t.co/z2nTc88WKz https://t.co/aP8BL0IdvSOne thing is certain — the issues are unlikely to be raised by Trump at his rally in Appleton Wisconsin, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Central Time — 3 p.m. Eastern, noon Pacific — on Wednesday, March 30, at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel there.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 29, 2016
Watch a full replay of the Appleton Donald Trump rally in the video below.
The last public appearance by Donald Trump prior to his Wisconsin tour came not at a rally, but in Washington D.C. when Trump delivered a speech to the pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC on March 21. But even that speech brought controversy, as Trump's declaration in the speech that President Barack Obama was "maybe the worst thing to happen to Israel" led AIPAC to apologize — something the organization had never done before, even after controversial speakers.
Watch the Donald Trump AIPAC speech in the video below.
Trump is making an all-out effort in Wisconsin because until Wednesday afternoon he actually trailed in the state — though polls show a close race between Trump and Cruz. In fact, after two straight polls on March 20 and March22 showing Cruz leading by five percentage points and one point, in a poll released on March 25 by the Optimus research firm showed Trump pulling ahead by two percentage points.
The surprise in that poll was that second place was not occupied by Ted Cruz but by Ohio Governor John Kasich, at 29 percent to 31 for Trump.
The FiveThirtyEight election-predicting site projects Trump with a 45 percent chance of winning Wisconsin, compared to a 45 percent chance for Cruz. In other words, the race is now completely up in the air.
With 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination for president, Trump currently controls 755, 61 percent of the required total. Cruz trails by 290 delegates.
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Wisconsin has 42 delegates available. The winner of the primary will be awarded 18 of those delegates automatically. Each of the state's eight congressional districts will have three delegates, which will be awarded to the winner of that specific district.
Donald Trump will be aiming to grab as many of those Wisconsin delegates as he can, with his rally that will stream live from Appleton just one part of his plan.
[Featured Photo By Alex Brandon/Associated Press]