LOS ANGELES, May 2, 2016 — This time it was supposed to be different: California was finally supposed to matter in a presidential year. The Golden State with 20 percent of the electoral votes was going to be more than just a cash cow. The California Republican Party was at last going to be something other than an oxymoron.
The gathering in Burlingame, right near San Francisco International Airport, featured speeches by all three remaining presidential candidates. In addition to Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Cruz’s vice presidential choice Carly Fiorina also addressed the convention.
Before Trump arrived, the same leftist protesters who violently disrupt his other rallies violently disrupted this one. In the name of tolerance, the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supports gave physical beatings to Trump supporters trying to enter the convention. The Trump supporters provoked the leftists by breathing while conservative. Given that San Francisco is a leftist city in a very liberal state, the local police were given implied orders to coddle the violent agitators.
With Secret Service at his side, Trump was taken an alternate route into the convention hotel. Rather than go through the lobby, Trump had to go through some uncomfortable terrain. Naturally, he worked his experience into his remarks at the hands of the protesters, many of whom were overturning cars and hoisting Mexican flags.
As for trying to get into the hotel, Trump said, “It felt like I was crossing the border.”
He continued the illegal immigration analogy. “I’ve just come through dirt and mud and under fences”
Trump then spent a lot of time bragging about his polls and his victories while attacking the “corrupt system” involving delegates.
Trump came dangerously close to libel by saying that Cruz “bought all of these delegates” and then insisting he would not use the word “bribed.”
He then continued his litany of insults. Talking about himself, he remarked, “Jeb Bush didn’t support you, like I care.” He again called the former Florida governor “low energy.”
He excoriated some conservatives on trade, dismissing them as having “High IQ and no brain power.”
He even took an unexplainable cheap shot at former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore’s failed presidential campaign.
“I started with 17 people, 17, there were actually 18, if you include Gilmore.”
Actually, there were 17 GOP presidential candidates including Gilmore.
He called Karl Rove “the dumbest human being on Earth. He still thinks Romney won the election.”
The leftists who committed violence at the CRP Convention were thugs, some of them paid political agitators. Trump was zero percent responsible for their criminal behavior. Trump was responsible for his speech, which was light on substance and long on bravado.
Cruz prefers policy. He criticized Trump’s position on trade, which Cruz insisted could lead to trade wars. Cruz elicited laughter when he ridiculed the liberal obsession with putting trees and animals over workers and jobs. California Gov. Jerry Brown has devastated Central Valley farmers by shutting off their water supply to protect the little Delta Smelt fish. Cruz told the crowd that three-inch fish are great with “cheese and crackers.”
Trump’s supporters are mainly drawn to him for his stance on illegal immigration. Cruz sought to counter that by rolling out the endorsement of former California Gov. Pete Wilson. Wilson’s tough illegal immigration stance played a major role in his getting re-elected in 1994.
Kasich gave his standard speech about his electability. Many conventioneers seemed skeptical of the same argument Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney rode to defeat. Kasich keeps pointing to polls showing him beating Hillary Clinton, but that is because Kasich has been completely ignored. He has yet to face a single attack ad from the Democrats.
The presidential candidates and Fiorina gave their speeches and fled back to Indiana for the Hoosier state’s critical primary on Tuesday. California has its primary June 7. While the state will get plenty of attention in the coming weeks, it is expected to get little to none in the general election.
Despite the biggest names the California GOP has had at its convention in some time, many problems remain for the party of Abraham Lincoln in the state once governed by Ronald Reagan. The main problem is a total lack of enthusiasm in the California Republican Party. This cannot be blamed on leftists. This is an internal problem that shows no signs of abating.
Out of 60 million people in California, approximately 1,000 delegates showed up to this convention. Of the several hundred who bothered to listen to the presidential candidates, only a fraction of them stayed to hear the United States Senate candidates in their state. GOP front-runner Tom Del Beccaro was the California GOP chairman only three years ago. He and the rest of the GOP senate candidates were given eight minutes to speak on Sunday after many delegates had left. Del Beccaro gave substantive remarks on taxes and a host of other issues, but only 60 people or so were even in the room to hear him. With Barbara Boxer retiring, Del Beccaro’s message should have reached more than one out of every one million voters.
Blame could be placed on plenty of competing items that same weekend. The California GOP could blame Passover, the NFL Draft, hockey and basketball playoff games, the daytime Emmys\ or even the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Excuses satisfy only those giving them.
Texas has between 10,000 and 15,000 delegates at their convention. North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin have all had at least 3,000 delegates attend their state conventions in recent non-presidential years. Whatever California is doing to bring delegates to their conventions is not working. If the craziest presidential race in decades cannot boost turnout, perhaps nothing can.
The party has money. The previous GOP deficit has been erased. Money helps, but the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer requires votes. The GOP won national wave elections in 2010 and 2014 but still lost badly in California. Democrats have every reason to feel confident in California in 2016. Del Beccaro has the policy chops, but to win he needs plenty of help. By sheer numbers alone, that help has yet to arrive.
If the national GOP shows any interest in competing in California, it has a funny way of showing it. The California delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland were given the news of their July hotel accommodations. As of now, they will be staying 60 miles away from Cleveland at a hotel in Sandusky, Ohio.
The California delegates will be so far from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland that even paid leftist protesters may not bother to go and physically harass them.