Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made an appeal to party insiders during the California Republican Party convention (video below).
On April 29, Trump arrived in Burlingame, California, to speak at the state’s GOP convention held at a Hyatt Regency. The front-runner for the Republican nomination was met with an army of protesters.
During the business mogul’s speech, hundreds of demonstrators swarmed the outside of the convention to protest his candidacy.
Burlingame Police Lt. Jay Kiely told CNN the number of demonstrators was in the hundreds, with a number of them attempting the breach the convention barricade. Escorted by Secret Service, Trump was forced to bypass the crowd by crawling underneath a fence along the back entrance.
“It felt like I was crossing the border,” Trump told the convention crowd.
The business mogul called on the Republican establishment to unify around him. California, normally an afterthought in GOP primaries, has become a crucial state, with 172 delegates on the line.
Trump needs 241 more delegates to reach the 1,237 necessary to clinch the GOP nomination. Otherwise, he will have to outmaneuver rivals Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio during a contested convention in July, according to the Associated Press.
“There has to be unity in our party,” Trump told the convention crowd. The business mogul added that, in his view, he would not need the approval of the GOP establishment to triumph in November.
“Could I win without it?” Trump questioned. “I think so, to be honest, I think so … Ideally, we’re going to be together. I think I will win even if we’re not together.”
While the business mogul was making his case to the California Republican Party establishment, protesters raged outside of the convention, slamming Trump’s controversial rhetoric on the campaign trail.
“We're upset at the hate speech and division that this man, Donald Trump, is saying in a time of crisis,” said protester Frank Lara, an elementary school teacher from San Francisco. “We’re out here to make sure that he does not feel comfortable just saying what he is saying.”
Trump’s tour of California has been marked by violent protests. On April 28, fights broke out between Trump protesters and supporters during the business mogul’s campaign event in Costa Mesa, California.
The incident resulted in a damaged police car and an injured Trump supporter. Police arrested 20 people on the scene.
Despite the controversy surrounding the business mogul, Republican operatives have signaled that the party establishment may be beginning to accept him as their nominee.
“There are a fair number of RNC members who were discounting his chances of success when we met in January and now see that he’s building a substantial lead, Republican National Committee member Steve Duprey of New Hampshire said. "The New York results were such an overwhelming win.
“It’s impressive,” Duprey concluded. “That’s what I’ve heard people talking about.”