Donald Trump supporters of all age groups and from all parts of the Bay Area and beyond showed up at the California GOP Convention Friday in Burlingame to catch a glimpse of the man they are calling the "next president of America."
But not everyone was lucky enough to snag a spot at the coveted "Lunch Kickoff" inside the Hyatt Regency Banquet Room where Trump was going to headline the convention. A sold-out crowd of roughly 600 people were led into the premises as “California Dreaming” and “Hotel California” played in the background. There was also some Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.
"How can you not be crazy about a guy who plays Led Zeppelin before his speech," asked Mick from Sacramento, who described himself as the poster child for the Republican Party. Wearing Trump's trademark red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap and giving interviews to national and local media, Mick said that Republican voters were ready for a change.
"They don't like what's going on in our nation's capital, and Mr. Trump has educated us to some things we don't like, so I guess in our own stubborn American way we are blowing it all up," he said. "We're doing a restart. We're bringing in the outsider, who used to be the insider, but now is the outsider, I think that's why we are here. We are angry, and we want to throw the bums out and we believe our next commander-in-chief is Mr. Trump."
Luncheon guests didn’t seem to mind the extra tight Secret Service security sweeps because it meant they would get them a little closer to their idol.
Meanwhile, protesters blocked the Old Bayshore Highway off U.S. Highway 101 outside the hotel to prevent Trump’s motorcade from entering the area, breaking through police barricades. Some started unfurling large banners as noon approached, while reports of protesters stripping naked on the streets also surfaced. One protester was even able to sneak inside the main convention hall wearing a “Dump Trump, Stop Hate” banner, and was promptly escorted outside by a smiling security officer.
The banquet room itself was divided into two parts, with Trump supporters who paid $100 a ticket sitting at tables behind the ropes, and sponsors and GOP executive committee members getting a chance to sit closer to him.
Liveried staff carried out plates of spring mix with pancetta, asparagus, pea tendrils and red wine vinaigrette, lemon herb chicken with saffron rice and sautéed green beans, and dessert — strawberry bagatelle with fresh cream and sponge cake.[[377592241,C]]
Barbara Jensen said she was voting for Trump because he created more jobs for women than Hillary Clinton. "We need a CEO instead of a politician in charge — He has hired more women than Hillary Clinton and he pays women the same as he does men," she said.
Outside in the Hyatt Regency hotel parking lot, protesters burned Trump effigies, and in one instance, even the American flag, chanting: "This is California, run Trump run." The crowd cheered when they heard that Trump had compared his experience of having to hop a freeway barrier to avoid protesters to "crossing the border."
"Bay Area is anti-racism, Trump you're not welcome here," another group yelled.
Many Republicans at the convention said they were eager to see a new Republican Party come out of the campaigning process. Many said they would vote for Trump because he would create jobs.
“I am here to support Mr. Trump,” said Lela Terrazas Blankenberg who was there with her three children from Portola Valley. “We are Hispanics and think it’s very exciting to be able to be here. I don’t know why they are protesting. I am Republican and I would never protest at a Bernie Sanders rally.”
Her 22-year-old daughter Katie, who goes to Stanford University, said she supports Trump because she believes he will bring jobs back.
"I want to ask him when can I start working for him," she said. "I believe that he's actually going to do what he says. He's a candidate I'm actually excited about. He's brought a lot of momentum back. Even though he is a multi-billionaire he can still relate to the middle class."
Katie said that Trump is a very polarizing figure at Stanford. "I'm not really afraid to say what I think, which at Stanford might not be the best thing if you're a conservative" she said smiling. "It's really unfortunate that conservatives are silenced most of the time, especially when people are preaching to be tolerant and open-minded all the time."[[377660331,C]]