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Trump speaks to California GOP, 48 hours after debate absence.

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Former President Donald Trump made an appearance at the California GOP’s fall convention in Anaheim, addressing the crowd and expressing his belief that he could win California if not for a “rigged election system.” He criticized the state’s Democratic leadership and focused on California-specific issues such as water shortages. Trump also pledged to empower police to crack down on retail thefts if elected, stating that thieves could “fully expect to be shot” when leaving a store they robbed. California, with its 54 electoral votes, plays a significant role in the Republican primary, as it is a delegate-rich contest that takes place on Super Tuesday.

California’s delegate plan for the primary favors Trump, with the state GOP rules potentially allowing him to shut out his rivals from gaining any delegates. If a candidate receives over 50% of the vote in the primary, they would win all of California’s delegates, the largest haul available in any state. However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently in second place in primary polling, has been critical of Trump’s decision to skip the second debate. DeSantis has also called for a one-on-one debate with Trump, moderated by Fox News host Sean Hannity. While DeSantis, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are all scheduled to speak at the convention, Trump’s appearance marks the end of his busy campaign schedule.

The California GOP’s decision to adopt a delegate plan that favors Trump has drawn criticism from DeSantis’ allies, who argue that it makes it difficult to campaign effectively in a state as large as California. Despite this, DeSantis will still aim to court the Republican crowd at the convention and differentiate himself from Trump. Meanwhile, Scott seeks to assert himself by criticizing fellow candidates and highlighting the differences between himself and others on important issues. Ramaswamy, who was targeted by several rivals in the second debate, plans to focus on showcasing a different side of his campaign and outlining his policy plans for Day 1 if elected.

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