Former President Donald Trump played all the hits at the opening day of the California GOP Convention in Anaheim, California, promising to liberate the state from the ruling “far-left Marxist” Democrats and bring back closed borders, tariffs, public order, and plentiful water.
“California was once a symbol of American success,” said Trump during his winding speech today. “The Golden State gave us the gold rush, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the golden age of Hollywood.”
But “under the radical left Marxists and fascists,” it had become the site of “mass homeless encampments, soaring taxes, woke tech tyrants, child mutilation…roving bands of criminals looters and thugs.”
The stakes are high in Anaheim. The state will send the largest contingent of delegates to the Republican National Convention.
A recent rule change by the state part means that any candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the vote in California’s March 5 primary will capture all of the state’s 169 delegates. If no one wins an outright majority, then the delegates will be awarded proportionally.
That setup heavily favors the former president, who is the favored choice of over 50 percent of California Republicans. If one excludes undecided voters, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is running a distant second with less than 20 percent of the vote.
Republicans stand no chance of winning California in the 2024 general election. Trump won only 35 percent of the vote there in 2020, a result the former president blamed on the state’s “rigged” elections.
“No way we lose this state in a real election,” said Trump. “If we had a real election with no mail-in votes. We’d win this state by a lot. We need fair and free elections in this country.”
If the crowd at the opening day of the GOP convention is any guide, the former president has the primary in the bag.
Hours before the event, an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of the former president’s supporters had lined up outside the ballroom where he was speaking. Many of the attendees were wearing the typical fare of red MAGA hats and Trump 2024 paraphernalia. A conga line of people in “Trump 47” football jerseys earned cheers from the waiting crowd as they paraded around the banquet hall before the speech.
The numerous criminal cases Trump is a defendant in were not a liability at the convention. People wearing shirts and holding signs featuring Trump’s mug shot with slogans like “wanted for president” and “never surrender” were a dime a dozen. A booth selling swag outside the ballroom featured mug shot merch.
Trump himself cracked jokes about the criminal charges he was facing. “Now I’m setting records. Al Capone was not indicted as much.”
“They’re fake charges,” he said. “Try to destroy a man so he can’t get elected.”
The former president also spent a significant portion of his speech speaking to California’s lack of water for agricultural and residential uses, a shortage which he said was manufactured by the state’s “lunatic” environmentalists.
“In Los Angeles, you have faucets, washing machines, all these things, but there’s very little water…a $35 million house and you can’t take a shower,” he said.
“All the dry canals will be brimming, you can use it to irrigate, including your homes and bathrooms. The overflow to dampen your forests, you won’t have these fires,” said Trump, suggesting the surplus could be used to put out wildfires.
The former president also spent a lot of time talking up his record of protectionism during his first term and promised to revive tariffs once back in office. “We’re going to put a big tariff on China,” he said at one point.
Trump earned some of the largest cheers for his promises to restore public order to California and use the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate “every radical D.A.” in the state. “We will start with the Marxist monsters unleashing mayhem on L.A. and San Francisco.”
“We will return law and order to California. If you rob a store you can fully expect to be shot as you’re leaving it,” he said to applause.
Trump also vowed to cut funding to any school that taught critical race theory or had a vaccine or mask mandate; clear the homeless from the streets; conduct the biggest deportation operation in the nation’s history; “destroy the Deep State”; and end the Russia-Ukraine war.
“They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take your freedom,” concluded Trump. “We are going to save your state.”
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