Trump bashes US-Saudi Arabia ties

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Former Gov Sarah Palin (R-AK), announces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks at a town hall event on April 2, in Racine, Wisconsin. Candidates are campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the Tuesday Apirl 5 primary. (AFP
Former Gov Sarah Palin (R-AK), announces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks at a town hall event on April 2, in Racine, Wisconsin. Candidates are campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the Tuesday Apirl 5 primary. (AFP

MILWAUKEE, April 3, (Agencies): Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday questioned the United States’ protective relationship with Saudi Arabia and again accused US allies of not pulling their weight in the NATO military alliance despite mounting bipartisan pressure on Trump to soften his tone.

The billionaire businessman told a campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin that allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “are not paying their fair share” and called the 28-nation alliance “obsolete.” “Either they pay up, including for past deficiencies, or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO,” Trump said. Trump has frequently criticized NATO in recent weeks as the race for the Republican nomination for the Nov 8 election has heated up. At a campaign stop in Wausau, Wisconsin on Saturday, Trump expressed concerns over the United States’ relationship with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which Trump accused of not pitching in fair pay for US defense.

“We take care of Saudi Arabia. Now nobody’s going to mess with Saudi Arabia because we’re watching them,” he said. “They’re not paying us a fair price. We’re losing our shirt,” he said. On Friday, Obama cast doubt on Trump’s fitness for office after the former reality TV star refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe and said Japan and South Korea might need nuclear arms. “The person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean peninsula, or the world generally,” Obama said, warning that the world is closely watching the US election rhetoric.

“I’ve said before that people pay attention to American elections. What we do is really important to the rest of the world,” Obama said. Trump’s comments on NATO have also sent ripples through the Republican Party, which has traditionally promoted a muscular foreign policy. Tuesday could be a turning point in the Republican nomination race, when Wisconsin hosts its nominating contest. Trump, 69, trails his leading rival, US Senator Ted Cruz, 45, of Texas in the Upper Midwestern state.

A Cruz win would make it harder for Trump to reach the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the Republican national convention in July. The winner will get to claim all of Wisconsin’s 42 delegates. US presidential primaries spark back to life Tuesday after an eventful 10-day break with clear frontrunners Trump and Hillary Clinton both facing the real possibility of losing in Wisconsin. Defeat in the north-central state isn’t likely to immediately change the course of the overall nominating contest, but it could serve as an indicator of the race’s current status ahead of the New York primary on April 19, where polls show both in the lead. It’s been a bumpy period for Trump, the Republican billionaire from New York.

Although his campaign has seemed bulletproof up until now, his latest controversies — including abortion, opponent Ted Cruz’s wife and a journalist who said she was roughed up by Trump’s campaign manager — have alienated women voters further, polls indicate. His divisive style is also under scrutiny, and the real estate magnate had a surprise meeting with Republican party chief Reince Priebus in Washington on Thursday amid rumblings that the party would fracture if he were to win the nomination. Trump says he regrets retweeting an unflattering picture of the wife of arch-rival Cruz, in a rare act of contrition from the Republican presidential frontrunner.

Trump is in pole position to seize the Republican nomination but is doing poorly nationwide among women voters, polls show, and faced stern criticism from all sides in recent days after saying women who have illegal abortions should be “punished,” before he backtracked. Following one of the worst weeks of his campaign, Trump was on defense Saturday as he kicked off a three-day sprint to Wisconsin’s primary.

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