Hundreds of rowdy anti-Trump protesters broke through barricades and threw eggs at police Friday outside a hotel where the GOP frontrunner addressed the state's Republican convention. Several Trump supporters said they were roughed up but no serious injuries were reported.
The protest just outside San Francisco occurred a day after anti-Trump protesters took to the streets in Southern California, blocking traffic and damaging five police cars in Costa Mesa following a speech by the leader in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Demonstrators at both locations waved Mexican flags, an action meant to counter Trump's hard stance on immigration and disparaging remarks about Mexico.
Because of the protest, Trump was rerouted to a back entrance. In a surreal scene, news helicopters showed the billionaire businessman and his security detail walking between two concrete freeway barriers before hopping down onto a grass verge and walking across a service road.
"That was not the easiest entrance I ever made," Trump quipped when he started speaking to the convention delegates. "It felt like I was crossing the border."
Outside, crowds of anti-Trump protesters broke through steel barricades and pelted riot police with eggs as the officers stood shoulder-to-shoulder to keep the demonstrators from entering the hotel.
A man wearing a red hat bearing the Trump campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" was punched in the head from behind while being jostled by a group of shouting protesters. Another Trump supporter said he was punched and spit upon by demonstrators who also threw his phone to the ground.
"It went gangbusters. They attacked me," said Chris Conway, a mortgage broker from San Mateo.
Burlingame is right outside San Francisco, a liberal bastion that became the focal point of the immigration debate last year when an immigrant in the country illegally, and who had been deported multiple times, shot and killed a woman walking with her father.
Immigration has been one of Trump's main issues and he often has highlighted the San Francisco killing while touting his plan to build a wall along the entire Mexican border.
California's primary is June 7, a date once seen as too late to influence the selection process. Now it is seen as the election that either gets Trump over the threshold needed for the nomination or leaves him just short.
He'll likely make many visits to California in coming weeks. That and his hard stand on immigration in a state where millions of immigrants live and that's run by Democrats who generally support more benefits, services and job opportunities for those in the country illegally raise the prospects of more raucous demonstrations.
In Orange County, once a Republican stronghold but now home to a surging Hispanic population, a vocal but peaceful demonstration before a rally and Trump speech turned violent afterward. At least 17 people were arrested, five police cars were damaged and an officer was hit in the head by a rock but not seriously hurt, authorities said.
One anti-Trump protester bloodied the face of a supporter in a scuffle.
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 in front of lines of riot police.
There were no major injuries and police did not use any force.
Trump protesters have followed the candidate since he began his California trip Thursday with a rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, where he filled the Pacific Amphitheatre to its capacity of about 18,000. Many hundreds more were turned away.
It's possible that California, home to the largest trove of delegates, could provide the margin to anoint nominees in both major parties.
California's GOP platform defies expectation in a state known as a Democratic fortress. There have been pushes toward moderation, but the group tends toward conservative leanings and favors calls for a strong national defense, free markets, tax cuts and shrinking the size of government. It's also socially conservative: the state party's platform defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and wants Roe v. Wade reversed.
Trump opposes abortion but has spoken favorably about Planned Parenthood. He has warned against cutting into Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, often targets for conservatives who want to slow government spending. When Trump earlier this month said transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose, Cruz's campaign released a statement saying Trump was ``no different from politically correct leftist elites.'' The California platform endorses free markets; Trump has long criticized U.S. trade policy and advocated steep tariffs on Chinese goods.
How Trump fares this weekend could be an indicator of his fortunes on June 7. The event marks an unofficial kick-off for the California race, which will award 172 delegates — a rich trove in the race for the 1,237 required to clinch the GOP presidential nomination. Currently, Trump has 994 delegates, Cruz has 566 and Kasich has 153, according to the AP's delegate count.
The contest in the nation's most populous state — Los Angeles County alone has more people than Michigan — is vastly complicated, playing out in what amounts to 54 separate races on a single day — one in every congressional district and one statewide.
The winner in each district collects three delegates; then, the candidate who gets the largest number of votes statewide claims a bonus of 10 more, plus the state party chairman and Republican National Committee members for a total bonus of 13.
An independent Field Poll released earlier this month found Trump with a 7-point edge over Cruz, 39 percent to 32 percent, with Kasich trailing at 18 percent and the rest undecided.
"Donald Trump is not going to agree with every member of this audience on every issue but he remains the rock star of this presidential race," said Thad Kousser, who teaches political science at the University of California, San Diego.
But inside the California GOP, Cruz has something of a home field advantage. He's been organizing in the state since last summer, and is supported by four former state party chairmen, along with a host of elected officials and activists.
With Cruz's organizational roots in the state, a challenge for Trump will be breaking into the party establishment to line up as many supporters as possible in congressional districts he needs to win in June.
Kasich, the holder of one primary victory, his home state of Ohio, is looking to make inroads in California districts that could be favorable to his more moderate credentials and bolster his bid to stay in the race.