Trump ends California swing marked by bold remarks, criticism and violence

The presumptive GOP nominee remained outwardly confident about taking the Golden State in the general despite multiple protests during his trip there

Trump ends California swing marked by bold remarks, criticism and violence

Trump capped off his week-long swing through California on Friday by standing in front of his plane at an airfield in Redding, California, pointing out a black person in the crowd and saying, There! Look at my African American.

Its been quite a week in the Golden State for Trump.

In Fresno, he told drought-stricken Californians that there was no drought. In San Jose, he said Hillary Clinton should be in jail. In San Diego, he attacked a federal judge presiding over his Trump University suit, saying that Gonzalo Curiel was a total disgrace who happens to be, we believe, Mexican. Curiel is from Indiana.

Several of his rallies have ended in violence and near-riots, with supporters clashing with protesters in Orange County, San Diego and San Jose, and at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.

Trump has been the presumptive Republican nominee for president since his last two rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, dropped out of the race following the Indiana primary on 3 May. At this point in the race in 2012, Mitt Romneys calendar was largely empty save for fundraisers.

So what, exactly, is his game? Is he trying to act as a spoiler in the Democratic primary, which is looking tight for Clinton after a marathon bout of campaigning by Bernie Sanders? Is he worried about an embarrassment, in which dropped-out candidates who are still on the ballot such as former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore garner protest votes?

In part, experts say, his swing through California is about holding on to the national media narrative. One state GOP insider, speaking under the condition of anonymity because she did not want to be seen as criticizing the presumptive GOP nominee, said, What Ive heard from the inner circles is hes seeing California as a big enchilada, and even though hes got the nomination he wants to finish well.

If no voters turn out I dont think its going to really affect his chances hes won the nomination, said Terri Bimes, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. But maybe hes out here to play the part, she added.

A sizable protest vote for a candidate such as Gilmore in response to negative press including an LA Times editorial urging Republican primary voters to vote for anyone but Trump, and another from the San Diego Union-Tribune urging them to write in Ronald Reagans name would not snatch the nomination from Trump, but it could be a substantial embarrassment for a candidate who promises to win as much as he does.

If by some reason he ends up winning but with less than 50% of the vote, that would be [interesting] said Bill Schneider, a visiting professor in the department of communication studies at UCLA and a former senior political analyst for CNN.

Trump ends California swing marked by bold remarks, criticism and violence
Protests outside Trumps San Jose rally. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Schneider pointed out that in the California Republican primary unlike the Democratic one the same day only registered Republicans are allowed to vote. A fairly poor performance in California would show that Republican rank-and-file voters are not enthusiastic about his candidacy, he said, which would imply that Trump doesnt have the momentum he claims.

There might also be something to the idea that Trumps inflammatory performances in the diverse and liberal-leaning California might be a kind of theater, aimed not at local voters here but at people watching on TV in the post-industrial midwest.

It is true that [his message] would appeal perhaps more outside of California, who are out of work, whose companies have been exported to Mexico, who were registered Democrats but out of work and angry in places such as Ohio, said a senior Republican party figure, who also spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity. [Trump] has one message for the entire country … but the message just wont play nearly as well in certain states than other states. Theres no reason you have to have a different message but you have to take into account your audience, he added.

In San Jose on Thursday, Trump was bullish about his chances here in the general election, though all the experts spoken to by the Guardian agreed that a win in the Golden State for Trump in November would be next to impossible. No. Its not plausible, Bimes said. He has to say that, but its not based on reality.

It wont happen, Schneider agreed. He will not win California. There are too many Latinos, too many African Americans, too many minorities, and too many educated white liberals who wont vote for him.

Nonetheless, Trump remains outwardly confident. I think we can win the state of California and win it comfortably, he told the crowd of around 5,000 in San Jose on Thursday night.

I mean, look at this crowd, he added, gesturing to the cavernous but two-thirds empty marquee.

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