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Portage County Tea Party leader says most members support Trump

by MARC KOVAC | RPC CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: September 7, 2016 1:00 AM

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 Partiers support, and the billionaire businessman is on the same page on an array of issues.

"We want our constitution, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, Second Amendment rights, 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 were on hand and vocal in 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.

He said the new website and Tea Party for Trump groups will 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."

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