Trump in Chicago: I'll be 'true friend to Poland
In muted tones before about 200 people at the Polish National Alliance headquarters in Chicago, Donald Trump promised an administration that will be a "true friend to Poland and all Polish-Americans."
Trump spoke to the group for about 20 minutes before heading to Bolingbrook for a luncheon fundraiser at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. He read from a brief statement but often deviated from his prepared remarks, though not for his traditional bombast.
"I don't think you will be insulted if I say we're going to be a friend to everybody," Trump said.
Among leaders of countries around the world, Trump said, "If they don't like me, they will end up liking me when we produce, because we have politicians who don't produce."
He called Poland a "beacon" and noted the country's contributions to the U.S.-led military alliance that fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Now, as president, I will honor Poland's sacrifices for freedom. We are committed to a strong Poland, very committed," he said.
Apparently trying to inoculate himself over attacks on his own hard-line immigration proposals, Trump criticized former President Bill Clinton, who he said, "disagreed with Poland's opposition to bring in refugees," and he said Hillary Clinton wants to bring more refugees into the United States than President Obama wants.
"I happen to believe that (Clinton would) be very, very bad for our country," he said. "I think it would be worse than four more years of Obama."
Trump said he believed the voters in the United States shared the same belief as voters in the United Kingdom who voted to exit the European Union.
"We want our independence back. We want our freedom back. We don't want to take people into our country that we don't want. We don't want to take people into our country that possibly have very bad intentions. I mean, we have so many problems," he said.
The audience then sang the traditional song of well-being, "Sto lat," which is often sung at Polish birthday celebrations.
Before Trump appeared on stage, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke.
He acknowledged Chicago's efforts to help New York following the terror attacks of 9/11 and sought to rebut concerns about Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He doesn't know Putin. He's never met Putin," the former New York mayor said. "He's going to negotiate with him on basis of military strength that dwarfs the Soviet, sorry, Russia."
His appearance followed a brief roundtable with about 20 people, including PNA President Frank Spula and Piotr Janicki, Polish consul general to Chicago, which was open for a brief pool photo spray.
Security for the event was heightened, according to local organizers, after graffiti was spray painted on parts of the building and sidewalks overnight.