In a charged address at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim Friday, Donald Trump made headlines with a mix of familiar attacks and grievances, as well as a concerning call for violent retribution against criminals.
Some of the topics of the complaints in Trump’s wandering 90-minute speech: crime, forests, homelessness, Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, electric vehicles, and, of course, alleged election fraud, according to the Chronicle.
He reportedly called retail thieves “Marxist monsters unleashing mayhem in Los Angeles and San Francisco,” and said he send “every asset” he could to “shoot” them — apparently drawing applause from the 1,500-person crowd. Going off-script, he said, "If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store," emphasizing his call for violent punishment.
Trump also wants to “wet” forest floors to prevent wildfires, per the Chronicle. But then he said that rich people in Beverly Hills smell bad because they're denied water, as KCRA reported.
Going after California's Democratic leadership, Trump blamed them for issues such as homelessness, high taxes, and inequality. He reportedly accused the state of being a "dumping ground" for prisoners, terrorists, and mental patients, pledging to "reverse the decline of America."
Naturally, Trump has no shot of winning the state, but California is set up to play a pivotal role in the Super Tuesday primaries, so the state's GOP support is valuable — he currently leads the primary race among likely Republican voters, according to a recent poll, per the LA Times.
Also in attendance at the convention were other Republican contenders, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who expressed support for law enforcement without advocating violence, according to the Chronicle. But Trump’s legal challenges still loom as he faces felony charges in four criminal cases.
While he was in Southern California on Friday, he went to a gun store and may have bought a handgun, as the Washington Post reported. A staffer reportedly posted a picture of him with a gun, and federal prosecutors are questioning if that counts as a violation of the gag order imposed on him amid his criminal trials because the image could be construed as a public threat.
“The defendant either purchased a gun in violation of the law and his conditions of release, or seeks to benefit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so,” the court filing says, per WaPo. “It would be a separate federal crime, and thus a violation of the defendant’s conditions of release, for him to purchase a gun while this felony indictment is pending.”
Feature image of former U.S. President Donald Trump greeting fans during the California GOP convention on September 29, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, via David McNew/Getty Images.