Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump plans to kick off his California primary campaign in Burlingame on Friday, using the California Republican Convention as the launching pad.
Silicon Valley may seem an unlikely springboard for the blunt-spoken billionaire, whose policies on immigration have attracted criticism from some of the technology industry’s most prominent figures. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took the unprecedented step of using his F8 developers conference keynote to denounce a central part of Trump’s stump speeches — building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The Trump campaign counters that the Bay Area, as the economic driver of California, is precisely the right place for the real estate mogul to play the capitalist card.
“This guy knows how the free market system works and works well,” said veteran GOP strategist Tim Clark, who was recently hired to direct Trump’s California effort.
Clark said Trump will emphasize his credentials as a businessman and outline his views on trade and plans for economic growth — “That’s all the world to Silicon Valley.”
The Trump campaign claims it has won over some “major” tech players, but it isn’t ready yet to name names. The candidate’s opponents in the region are easy to identify.
One prominent tech figure now living in Hawaii, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, donated $100,000 to the Never Means Never PAC — a group working to deny Trump the Republican presidential nomination. A spokesperson said Omidyar wanted to support the group that’s opposing demagoguery and dangerous rhetoric.
Meanwhile, Trump opponents are organizing a protest outside the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, the site of the state GOP convention. More than 2,000 people indicated on Facebook that they plan to attend.