Politics

‘Leave Tom Brady alone,’ Donald Trump says in R.I.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign event at Crosby High School in Waterbury, Conn., Saturday, April 23, 2016. Trump must follow up his win in New York with another big night on Tuesday to stay on track to clinch the Republican nomination for president by the end of the primaries. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated press
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed supporters Saturday.

Donald Trump held a rally in Rhode Island on Monday, and he didn’t waste any time coming to Tom Brady’s defense.

“First of all, let’s start by saying, leave Tom Brady alone! He’s a great guy. Leave Tom Brady alone,” Trump said to cheers as he began his Warwick, R.I., rally.

A federal appeals court Monday overturned Judge Richard Berman’s ruling, saying that the New England Patriots quarterback must serve the four-game suspension that was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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Trump has frequently invoked Brady on the campaign trail, even giving him credit for his decisive victory in Massachusetts in March.

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“Honestly, in that part of the world, a reference like Tom Brady saying Trump’s the biggest winner, Trump is a friend of mine, that makes an incredible difference,” Trump told the New York Times in a phone interview on last month. “Tom Brady is a great friend of mine. He’s a winner and he likes winners. He was very helpful to us in Massachusetts on Tuesday.”

Brady has been somewhat less vocal about his relationship with the GOP front-runner.

“Donald is a good friend of mine,” Brady told WEEI in December. “I have known him for a long time. I support all my friends. That is what I have to say.”

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter@cprignano.