ANAHEIM, Calif.—Former president Donald Trump on Friday cast California as the frontline of the fight against progressive ideology, vowing to stop electric car mandates and sex changes for minors and "bring back law and order to California."
"The mission to help you liberate California from communist rule begins at noon on Inauguration Day," Trump told his audience at the California Republican Convention where he launched the state party’s weekend activities.
Trump’s speech came as he is well-poised to run away with California’s massive delegate pool in his drive for the party’s presidential nomination. The state party changed its primary rules in July to a winner-take-all system where the candidate with the majority of Republican votes will receive all 169 delegate votes on Super Tuesday. Before this change, Republican hopefuls could collect delegates for every congressional district they won.
Trump pledged a Justice Department investigation into "Marxist" district attorneys’ soft-on-crime policies, threatened a lawsuit against the state’s environmental water rules that force water rationing, and attacked California’s scheduled gas vehicle ban and school policies to transition kids to new genders.
"Under a Trump administration, gasoline-required engines will be allowed and child sexual mutilation will be banned," Trump said.
Trump also spoke about crime during his speech, noting that a second Trump presidency would bring "law and order to California." California is reeling under a crime wave, with violent crime and robberies spiking and major cities seeing a surge of organized groups looting high-end stores. Crime is especially bad in cities with progressive district attorneys. In Oakland, where the George Soros-backed district attorney Pamela Price is pursuing lenient sentencing for murderers, violent crime grew by 12 percent, and robberies by 30 percent.
The former president was treated as the de facto Republican nominee. Standing ovations started during a preview video clip that introduced him as "the next president of the United States" before he took the stage. His rivals for the nomination were hardly a presence as the convention kicked off Friday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, scheduled to speak Friday evening, was the only other candidate with a booth and signs posted. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are also on the agenda but were not marketing their campaigns to the attendees. They are all trailing far behind Trump in the polls.
Meanwhile the former president teased California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) as a potential presidential rival, noting Newsom’s emergence on the national scene as a surrogate for President Joe Biden and warning that he’ll have "a big fight" because "there will be a lot of Democrats competing." He also hinted that Newsom "understands" what he is doing wrong but concedes to left-wing interests.
California Democrats led by Newsom positioned themselves during the Trump years as a leader of the "resistance" to his administration, while California Republicans have stayed solidly in Trump’s corner. In 2020 the former president surpassed any previous GOP presidential candidate in the state with more than 5.5 million votes.
A state-wide poll last week showed Trump running away with Republican voters, with 48 percent of California Republicans favoring Trump compared with 14 percent for DeSantis.
The broader California electorate breaks for Biden over Trump by a 31 percent margin.