There is so much red, white and blue -- on shirts, hats, posters, purses, backpacks -- that it is nearly blinding.
“Trump 2016.” “Trump 2020.” “Trump 2022.” “Trump 2024.” The sloganeering is abundant, as are displays of “45-47,” referring to when Donald Trump was the 45th president and could be No. 47.
One is tempted to think this convention is in Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin, or some other MAGA hotbed.
But no, this is California, the bluest of these United States and no friend of Trump’s.
This is the California Republican party’s fall convention, and the excitement was as thick as the 1,300 delegates crowding into the Anaheim Marriott to cheer and adore the man who many think never stopped being president, given his countless false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
Organizers said it was the first time a California Republican party convention has drawn four presidential candidates.
Trump was the first to speak on Friday, to be followed by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy appears on Saturday.
But the opening was all about Trump.
Anita Shuman of Ontario wore a red, white and blue football jersey with “Trump” across the top of its back. The number was, naturally, 47.
“Trump is my president,” she said without hesitation. “He did a lot for this country. And he cares for us.”
But what about the four criminal indictments he faces?
“They are fraud,” Shuman replied.
Trump “loves our country,” said Roberta Cox of San Diego, a first-time attendee. “We had the best economy under him,” she adds, with nephew Scott Nye of Nebraska nodding in agreement.
One delegate waiting to hear all the candidates was Martha Kolstad, who is one of the Fresno County delegates. Referring to the election still over a year away, she said “I am going to listen to everybody. It is way too early” to pick a favorite.
She was clearly in the minority at this GOP event. Anticipation built toward noontime, when Trump was set to speak.
Trump likes indictment ‘record’
But he showed no worries at the convention.
He joked about setting a world record for indictments. And he returned to vintage Trump on targeting California for criticism:
▪ California is a Marxist state run by communist Democrats.
▪ Illegal aliens are ruining the state.
▪ Wacky environmentalists have left the state suffering from droughts when there is more than enough water for cities and farms alike.
None of those things are true, but no matter to Trump.
Nationally, Trump said “crazy” liberal policies are allowing men to transition into women’s sports. And law enforcement is wrongly being told to stand down by liberal leaders when crimes happen right before their eyes.
If he wins the election, “We will immediately stop all the pillaging. If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you leave that day.”
The crowd gave that remark a standing ovation -- never mind the idea contradicts professional policing and America’s legal process.
High gas prices are the result of leftist politicians. “When I am president, we will drill, baby, drill,” he said. Another ovation. Climate change is not mentioned.
The cheering was again loud when he promised “not to give one penny” to any school with a mask or vaccine mandate.
Echoing claims he has repeatedly made, Trump said the election system in America is broken. Mail voting must end, he said, or else elections will remain corrupt. Never mind facts that show there has been no fraud found in the 60 cases he brought after the 2020 election.
Trump way late, but no worries
Trump was more than an hour late to his scheduled time on the stage. Then he talked, often off script, for 95 minutes.
Frequently through his speech, Trump joked and showed the man-of-the-people vibe that endears him to his base, even though he claims personal riches.
“Tonight, at 6 o’clock, I think I am being indicted again,” he said to laughter.
In another vintage quote, Trump said “They want to take away my freedom because they want to take away your freedom.”
This is despite the fact Americans can still live, work, go to school and worship where they wish.
Fact-checking and truth-telling did not apply in the bubble of a GOP lovefest that was the fall convention in Anaheim. For a few hours, California’s Republicans felt on top of their world, especially when Trump pointed out the tables of “fake media” in the back of the ballroom, letting attendees boo the reporters with gusto.
Playing to emotions is Trump’s way, and it was remarkable, even scary, to witness how many seemed willing to follow him. Making America great is everyone’s goal, no matter the fear-mongering he employs in his crusade.