Presidential campaigns turn focus to RI ahead of state’s primary

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With just a little more than two weeks until Rhode Island’s presidential primary, the candidates have their sights set on the Ocean State – with appearances, commercials and campaign office openings in the works.

President Bill Clinton is scheduled to campaign in RI Thursday at a public event for his wife, Hillary Clinton. All nine of the state’s superdelegates have already pledged to back Clinton, including Congressman David Cicilline.

“I think it will be great for Rhode Island and great to sort of rally folks in support of Secretary Clinton on primary day,” Cicilline said.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is expected to make at stop in the state as soon as Friday, though no other details about his visit are available.

“We’re anticipating a crowd, I would say between 3,000 and 7,000 if things go well,” said Rep. Joseph Trillo, R-Warwick, who was named Trump’s honorary campaign chairman for Rhode Island last fall.

So far, there are no immediate plans for the other candidates to make appearances here, but their local reps believe they could come to Rhode Island in the future, as well.

The state’s primary will be held Tuesday, April 26. This year, officials say the smallest state in the union is important to both Democrats and Republicans.

“Listen, yes absolutely – I think Rhode Island does matter,” said GOP national state party director Matt Pinnell.

Despite being a blue state – small, with a late primary – officials said this year, every delegate is important – which is why Pinnell came to town to meet with Republicans.

“The enthusiasm that we have in this primary process – as we kind of lead, as we kind of go toward the national convention – is a big deal and it’s a big deal in every state,” Pinnell said.

Brandon Bell, RI GOP chairman, said everyone needs to know the rules with a possible contested convention coming up.

“We have a process that’s very transparent and open where the voters choose the delegates and the delegates then choose who the presidential nominee will be,” Bell said.

A GOP meeting is scheduled to be held Monday night in Cranston so local campaigns can go over the delegate rules ahead of the primary.

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