Former President Donald Trump attended the California GOP’s fall convention in Anaheim, where he addressed the crowd and expressed confidence that he could win California if not for a “rigged election system.” Trump criticized the state’s Democratic leadership and promised to crack down on retail thefts if elected, advocating for the use of force against thieves. California, with its 54 electoral votes, is usually a Democratic stronghold in general elections, but the state’s Republican primary is crucial due to its delegate-rich contest. The state GOP’s rules favor Trump and could potentially allow him to shut out his rivals from winning any delegates.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also spoke at the convention. DeSantis, who has seen his second-place position in GOP primary polling weaken in recent weeks, took the opportunity to court the crowd that supports Trump. He indirectly criticized Trump’s absence from the second debate and suggested a one-on-one debate with him moderated by Fox News host Sean Hannity. Scott, who was less prominent in the first debate, aimed to differentiate himself from other candidates and emphasized the importance of providing Republican primary voters with a clear contrast. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who was targeted by several rivals in the debate, focused on outlining the next phase of his campaign, prioritizing policy and delivering a different perspective to voters.
The California Republican convention showcased a divided field of candidates as they courted the party faithful and attempted to stand out in a race where Trump remains a dominant figure. Trump’s presence and his favorable position under the state GOP’s delegate plan added weight to his candidacy, while DeSantis and Scott sought to appeal to the same audience. Ramaswamy, though targeted in the debate, showcased his determination to introduce his unique perspective to voters. As the primary continues, candidates will have to work on differentiating themselves and providing Republican voters with clear contrasts in order to gain an advantage in the race for the GOP nomination.