Trump animates California Republicans with calls to shoot people who rob stores
ANAHEIM, California (AP) — In an occasionally dark and profane speech, Donald Trump on Friday sought to win over Republicans in California by complaining that rich people in Beverly Hills smell bad because they’re denied water, reiterating lies about widespread election fraud and calling on police to shoot people robbing stores.
While many of his remarks at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim were familiar retreads of Trump’s attacks and grievances, his encouragement of violent retribution against criminals marked an escalation of his longstanding tough-on-crime message.
“We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” he said, drawing loud applause. “Shot!” he added for emphasis.
Trump was one of several Republican presidential contenders appearing at the event in this Democratic stronghold. While there’s little hope for any of them to defeat President Joe Biden here in a general election, California will play a critical role in the slate of states voting on March 5 in the so-called Super Tuesday primaries.
With 169 delegates at stake, a win in California would move a Republican presidential candidate much closer to the nomination. And a recent rule change could give Trump, who is so far dominating the primary, an advantage. If he wins more than 50% of the vote, he would be awarded each of the state’s delegates.
A Public Policy Institute of California voter survey released Wednesday, but conducted in late August and early September, found Trump with support from nearly half of the likely Republican primary voters. DeSantis was far back, at 14 per cent, with the rest of the field lagging in single digits.
Trump’s comments on Friday underscored a central question surrounding Trump’s effort to return to the presidency. While his focus on red meat issues plays well with the GOP base, it’s unclear that it will hold much appeal with the broader set of voters needed to win a general election.
His remarks about crime, for instance, were especially pointed. In the past, Trump has proposed shooting migrants to prevent them from crossing the border. In his book and in interviews, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper alleged Trump inquired about shooting protesters during the George Floyd demonstrations. He has also proposed the death penalty for drug dealers, human traffickers and anyone convicted of killing a police officer.
During his first year in office, Trump advised police to be rougher in their handling of suspects being apprehended, telling recruits, “please don’t be too nice.”
“The word that they shoot you will get out within minutes and our nation, in one day, will be an entirely different place,” Trump said Friday. “There must be retribution for theft and destruction and the ruination of our country.”
Homicides and other violent crimes have risen in California, where residents have also been deluged with headlines from rampant car break-ins and drug use in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin district to street racing and illegal takeovers across a new $588-million bridge in Los Angeles.