Donald Trump brushed aside yet another protest Friday — even joking that “it was fun” — and told a gathering of California Republicans that he’s winning “landslides” on the road to what he described as a record-setting performance in the GOP primaries.
Trump addressed the California GOP convention as part of a very visible push to win what could be a decisive primary in the state next month.
He only used the top of his speech to address the demonstrations that have followed him since he got to the state and that delayed Friday’s address by about an hour.
“That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made. … It felt like I was crossing the border actually,” Trump said.
But he said despite being told it would be easier to skip the speech, he couldn’t “let these people down.”
“It was fun. It was a little different,” Trump said, later adding he had to get through “dirt and mud and under fences” to get in, and would do the same to get out.
The bulk of his speech was otherwise standard Trump fare, as the front-runner blasted what he called a “rigged” delegate system while mocking rival Ted Cruz as having “no path to victory.”
Cruz, earlier in the day, said “Donald is desperately trying to convince everyone that the race is over.”
Before Trump even arrived on Friday, protesters packed the area outside the hotel venue in Burlingame, Calif. Protesters could be seen breaking through barricades, as well as picking them up and tossing them aside, as they moved toward the front of the hotel.
One Trump supporter told Fox News he was confronted by the protesters. “I got punched, beat up, eggs thrown [at] me. … I got spit on,” he said.
A dozen protesters also linked arms to block the road in front of the hotel near San Francisco International Airport, but no one was using the street because police had already closed it to traffic. Protesters also draped a large “Stop Hate” banner outside the hotel. At least one could be seen waving the Mexican flag.
In Southern California the night before, violent demonstrations led to 17 arrests as the Republican presidential contender brought his campaign to conservative Orange County on Thursday.
While Trump held a rally at a fairgrounds amphitheater, dozens waved anti-Trump signs outside in what were initially mostly peaceful protests and traded insults with masses of the candidate’s supporters who had lined up to see him. Later in the evening, however, the protests swelled and grew rowdy and spilled into the streets.
One Trump supporter had his face bloodied in a scuffle as he tried to drive out of the arena. One man jumped on a police car, leaving its front and rear windows smashed and the top dented and other protesters sprayed graffiti on a police car and the Pacific Amphitheatre’s marquee.
Dozens of cars — including those of Trump supporters trying to leave — were stuck in the street as several hundred demonstrators blocked the road, waved Mexican flags and posed for selfies. Some protesters badgered Trump’s fans as they walked to their cars in the parking lot.
Police in riot gear and on horseback pushed the crowd back and away from the venue. There were no major injuries and police did not use any force. The crowd began dispersing about three hours after the speech ended.
Seventeen people were arrested, Costa Mesa police Sgt. Mike Manson said.
Trump has drawn large crowds across the country, with some of his events marred by protests and scuffles. The Pacific Amphitheatre was filled to its capacity of about 8,000 and a couple thousand more were turned away, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter said.
Earlier this week, a Trump rally in nearby Anaheim turned contentious when his supporters and protesters clashed, and several people were hit by pepper spray. Trump was not present.