Trump's Primary Support Gathers Steam Ahead Of Republican Convention

May 27, 2016
Originally published on June 8, 2016 1:30 pm
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And after taking some time away from the trail to retool his campaign for the general election - although you might not have noticed that he was gone - Donald Trump is back this week on the trail. He locked up the Republican presidential nomination this week with the support of unbound delegates. Although he's now the presumptive nominee, Trump is sounding nearly as unvarnished as he did during the primary campaign. NPR's Sarah McCammon has been traveling with him and has this report.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Donald Trump was in North Dakota yesterday for a petroleum conference. But before launching into his speech on energy, he had some an important guests to acknowledge.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

DONALD TRUMP: The delegates from your state, right here, you, North Dakota, where are you? Where are you? Where are my delegates?

MCCAMMON: Trump told the crowd that filled most of the Bismarck Event Center that their state would be remembered for helping him clinch the Republican nomination.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: So North Dakota brought us - you brought us over the line, folks.

MCCAMMON: Trump has spent the week holding rallies and fundraising, a new development for the billionaire who touted himself as a self-funder during the primary season. He's also been criticizing likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with much the same tone he was known for using to attack his Republican rivals.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Crooked Hillary. But...

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Crooked Hillary.

MCCAMMON: Trump has also been going after Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who's become one of his most vocal adversaries. At stops along the campaign trail this week, Trump has mocked Warren, who herself has faced criticism in the past for describing herself as Native American during her time as a law professor.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Who, Pocahontas?

MCCAMMON: During a press conference in Bismarck, Trump was asked about the way he's been referring to Warren lately. That's when Nicole Robertson, a Native American writer and media consultant from Canada, chimed in.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

NICOLE ROBERTSON: That's very offensive.

TRUMP: Oh. Oh, really? Oh, I'm sorry about that. Pocahontas? Is that what you said? Elizabeth Warren?

MCCAMMON: Warren has said that she was told growing up that her mother was part Native American. Trump called her overrated and suggested she'd benefited professionally from identifying that way, something Warren denies. In Albuquerque this week, Trump also went after a member of his own party, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, blaming her for economic challenges in the state.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: We have to get your governor to get going. She's got to do a better job, OK?

MCCAMMON: Martinez is the first Latina governor in the U.S., and she's been critical of Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Hey, maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAMMON: That rally, at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Tuesday, drew the most chaotic protests of the week. Police released smoke to disperse the crowd, a window was shattered and at least four people were arrested. If Trump had harsh words for his critics on both sides of the aisle, he had fonder feelings for one person.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Oh, I'd love to debate Bernie. He's a dream.

MCCAMMON: Trump told reporters in North Dakota he wasn't joking this week when he told late-night host Jimmy Kimmel he'd be willing to debate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders if a TV network donates at least $10 million to charity. Trump said that he and the Vermont senator agree on at least one thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Because honestly, his system is rigged just like our system's rigged.

MCCAMMON: It's likely this talk of a debate between Trump and Sanders is about another bit of common ground they share - for the moment, anyway - the desire to beat Hillary Clinton. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Bismarck, N.D. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.