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Cruz calls on Trump to debate him in Indiana

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Saturday called for front-runner Donald Trump to debate him in Indiana ahead of the state’s May 3 primary election.

The challenge drew applause from the nearly 200 Indiana residents at an event in Plainfield, Indiana, Saturday.

Cruz’s deep evangelical Christian roots could give him a boost in Indiana. In addition to Plainfield, he spoke to nearly 1,000 people at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Indiana, promising to protect religious liberty if he were in office.

In Plainfield, he also trumpeted plans to bringing manufacturing jobs to Indiana, appealing to the state’s history as a manufacturing hub.

James Ruark, 56, of Plainfield, said he plans to support Cruz in the primary.

“(Trump) made a lot of people mad,” Ruark said at the rally. “He has a lot of supporters but he’s also ticking a lot of people off wherever he goes.”

But Plainfield resident Daryl Mayo, 59, said he was undecided because of Indiana’s GOP delegate system.

“Indiana has already picked delegates that favor Cruz,” he said. I would have voted for Cruz, but if my vote doesn’t count, what’s the purpose?”

The Trump campaign has said it is concerned that some openly anti-Trump party members were chosen as delegates to represent Indiana at the Republican convention even before the voting on May 3. They are pledged to support whoever wins the primary on the first convention ballot but could switch later.

Cruz’s visit comes with just over a week before Indiana voters head to the polls. Cruz also is scheduled to visit Evansville and Terre Haute Sunday.

Trump campaigned Saturday in the Northeast, where several states vote on Tuesday.