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Donald Trump Delivers Keynote At California GOP Convention


Here's what it sounded like outside the California Republican Convention today near San Francisco.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in Spanish).

MCEVERS: That chant, here we are and we're not going. Hundreds of demonstrators carried signs and waved Mexican flags. They tried several times to push their way into the hotel. And the focus of their protest was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and he was a little late getting into the building. He had to climb over a freeway wall to get to the back door.


DONALD TRUMP: Oh, boy, it felt like I was crossing the border, actually, you know? It's true.

MCEVERS: NPR's Ina Jaffe is at the California Republican Convention, and she joins us now.

Hi there, Ina.


MCEVERS: So did Donald Trump continue on with this talk about the wall and illegal immigration in his remarks there today?

JAFFE: Well, you know, he talked about illegal immigration pretty - he hit it pretty hard last night in Orange County when he had a big rally, but today, really, that remark about the wall was was mostly it. He did mention in passing how big and beautiful that wall was going to be that he's going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. But really the speech was mainly for him a victory lap.

He focused on the process of the election and how well he was doing everywhere, his sweep of the mid-Atlantic states last Tuesday and his huge margin of victory in New York. But he spent a lot of time also talking about how, quote, "rigged" the delegate selection process is. He talked about how prospective delegates can be bribed by candidates, again, a word that he said he wouldn't actually say in (unintelligible) company and so he switched to the word bought. But other than that, it was Trump's greatest hits - making fun of Ted Cruz, who he called lying Ted, even though there were probably some Ted Cruz supporters in the room, talking about John Kasich's eating habits. And to use another Trump term, the speech was really kind of low energy.

MCEVERS: Anything on terrorism or trade or even Hillary Clinton?

JAFFE: Nothing on terrorism or anything to do with foreign policy. Passing mentions of NAFTA and a couple of mild references to how badly he'll beat Hillary Clinton. But that was all.

I mean, really, it was just about this moment in the election. There weren't a lot of issues that he raised.

MCEVERS: How did people respond?

JAFFE: Well, you have to remember who this crowd is. They're the delegates to the state party convention - activists, officeholders. Certainly there were many Trump supporters in the room but not all of them. He had his share of applause and cheering, but not the kind of raucous response you've seen at his rallies. Still, they were curious enough to spend a hundred bucks to get into this lunch where he spoke. Mainly they were just excited to have him there. You know, California Republicans aren't used to getting a lot of attention. They're only 27.6 percent of the electorate here, and usually by the time the California primary rolls around in June, the nominee is all but crowned.


JAFFE: So the fact that no one has officially clinched the nomination is making the people here pretty excited.

MCEVERS: Right. How was - how did that discussion go? I mean, he is talking to potentially influential people. If he doesn't have enough delegates by the time he gets to California, California could absolutely matter. What was the talk of that?

JAFFE: Well, his message was, he's a winner, join him, not only in the primaries, but he said he's uniquely positioned to do better than the recent Republicans have in the general election, too. Listen to how he put it.


TRUMP: The Republican Party, in a presidential sense, doesn't win anymore. You pick your standard cookie cutters. I can tell you already. Just give me the name of the person, and I'll tell you exactly what states he's going to win and what states he's going to lose. I'm different because I'm going to win states that nobody else can.

MCEVERS: I imagine the other Republican candidates would have something to say about that this weekend, right?

JAFFE: Yeah, they will push back. John Kasich speaks tonight, and tomorrow there's Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

MCEVERS: That was NPR's Ina Jaffe at the California GOP Convention near San Francisco.

Thanks Ina.

JAFFE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults' involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long term care and end of life choices. In 2015, she was named one of the nation's top "Influencers in Aging" by PBS publication Next Avenue, which wrote "Jaffe has reinvented reporting on aging."