Local supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump are out making door-to-door visits and working the phones in Buffalo, days ahead of the New York Primary. And they're still taking issue with rival candidate Ted Cruz over his "New York values" comment made weeks ago.
Volunteers began arriving Wednesday morning at the Ellicott Square Building, where the Trump campaign's official Western New York Call Center is housed. Coincidentally, it's located in the same corner office where, for many years, the Erie County Democratic Committee set up their headquarters.
"We've been working for four to five months to get ready for this week," said local developer Carl Paladino, who is among the top leaders on Trump's statewide campaign. "I've been following the campaign to each venue. I did the scheduling for the entire state and it's been a pleasure. The people have been coming out in droves. It's just been unbelievable."
Among those arriving to collect Trump lawn signs and fliers were Gary Pelletier and Michael Redlein.
"Maybe it's time we had a New York State president. How's that sound?" said Redlein, who expressed frustration over the loss of manufacturing jobs in New York over the years, and the departure of his children to other states to find jobs. "What could be better than a president from New York State that understands our problems here in New York."
Many taking part in the local effort have previously supported the Trump campaign in other states. Michael Machina, a West Seneca resident, went door-to-door in three other states, dating back to the New Hampshire Primary. He expects many out-of-state supporters will make the drive to Buffalo for next Monday's rally at First Niagara Center.
"I certainly think so," Machina said. "When we were in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a gentleman I was standing next to was a lawyer from North Carolina. He was in South Carolina for the victory rally in Spartanburg. I anticipate that people who weren't able to attend venues in other parts of the state to come to Buffalo to see Mr. Trump."
Paladino says Trump thinks well of Western New York and is highly sensitive to the issues facing Upstate New York.
"His speeches over the last few days have been directed right at that," Paladino said. "It's jobs. It's the creation of jobs. He knows how to create jobs because he's done it before."
Paul Lacapruccia, a Buffalo native and combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, revealed he previously supported Rand Paul but acknowleged that his campaign went "in the toilet." He's now backing Trump.
"Politicians say what (Trump) says about the military is crazy. I say he's leading the conversation," Lacapruccia said. "Since he said NATO is obsolete, now all the right-thinking politicians are rightly asking what do Europeans pay as a percentage of their GDP into NATO. There are 400, 500 million Europeans who are, in world standards, relatively rich. Yet, we pay to defend them from Russia, a country with, at best, a middle class economy and 140 million people."
Others are backing Trump because of what they say is the fresh new direction he offers.
"He's not a politician," said Caroline Wojton, who along with her husband was among the volunteers working on the campaign Wednesday. "He's not polished, he's not rehearsed. Everything is fresh and new. We need a change to get rid of the establishment politicians."
Trump continues to enjoy strong leads in New York over his GOP challengers, Cruz and John Kasich, according to two polls. The NY1/Baruch College poll shows Trump to hold 60 percent support among New York Republicans questioned, while a new Siena College Research Institute poll puts his support at 50 percent, leading closest challenger Cruz by 23 points.