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Donald Trump holds campaign rally at Sacred Heart University

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FAIRFIELD - Donald Trump is making an unusual foray into deep-blue Connecticut.

The Republican presidential nominee held a rally Saturday night in Fairfield.  Earlier, he appeared at a fundraiser nearby in part of an affluent swath of suburbs north of New York City.

Trump said he's "making a big play for the state of Connecticut" even as he acknowledges that most Republicans don't compete in the state.

Connecticut has not voted for a Republican for president since 1988. Trump has claimed the state as one of several normally Democratic states in which he plans to compete.

Nearly 5,000 people filled a gymnasium on the campus on Sacred Heart University. With scorching temperatures outside, the gym grew warm quickly and several people needed medical assistance before Trump even took the stage.

The president of Sacred Heart said Trump's appearance was by no means a political endorsement and the Catholic school has a long-standing policy of opening its doors to a variety of speakers and promoting an open dialogue.

In a blog post that appeared Friday, John Petillo wrote how Sacred Heart has received a great deal of feedback, both positive and negative.

Petillo said the school has made its facilities available to community leaders, politicians and presidential candidates from across the political spectrum.

He said the school was asked to rent out the venue due to proximity, accessibility and availability.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.