SAN DIEGO — Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour.
During his first big campaign swing since locking up the Republican presidential nomination, Trump went after an odd and seemingly random group of people — Democrats and Republicans, famous and obscure. There seemed little to gain politically from the attacks, and his targets were linked by just one thing: Trump felt they had all done him wrong.
So he blasted Republicans who have yet to endorse him, including Jeb Bush, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Mitt Romney, who Trump said “walks like a penguin.” He declared that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton doesn’t look presidential, and he went after her allies, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom Trump continues to call “Pocahontas” even after being told the nickname is offensive. He mocked those protesting him and slammed reporters covering his candidacy.
During the four-day, four-state tour, Trump also went after people who were probably unknown to his supporters until he brought them up: Barbara Res, a former employee quoted in an article about his treatment of women, and U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is assigned to hear a fraud case against now-defunct Trump University.
Trump’s cutting insults and simplistic attacks have been a hallmark of his candidacy, viewed by supporters as proof that he is fearless and willing to attack institutions from the Republican Party to the Vatican. During Trump’s fight for the Republican nomination, his calculated shots at rivals helped take them out, one by one.
But with the nomination apparently secured, last week’s fusillade of digs seemed counterproductive. Why go after the GOP’s only two female minority governors — Martinez and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley — when there are many other elected Republicans who have not endorsed him? What does he gain from smearing a former employee and a federal judge whom most of his supporters have never heard of? Why comment on Clinton’s voice and appearance instead of her record?
“I have real issues with the way that he conducted himself at certain aspects of this campaign, throughout the campaign. That remains,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a CNN interview Sunday even as he announced his endorsement of Trump. “He’s now the Republican nominee, or presumptive nominee, and will be the nominee. And I think he has an opportunity now to enter a second phase in this campaign.”
Trump’s journey of grievances began Tuesday night with a rally in Albuquerque. The score-settling started right away: As he listed troubling statistics about the local economy — something he usually does at rallies — Trump told the crowd of several thousand that their two-term Republican governor was to blame.
“Your governor has got to do a better job,” Trump said to boisterous cheers. “She’s not doing the job.”
Martinez, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, has been critical of Trump and did not attend the rally, telling the local media she was “really busy” running the state.
The attack on her stunned many Republicans, who are not accustomed to a nominee who will throw one of their own to an angry mob. Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, both former 2016 candidates, and others came to Martinez’s defense. A Martinez spokesman also fired back, saying she “will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans.”
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, defended the attacks on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no attack on a Latino or a woman governor,” he said. “What this was was laying out the economic perspective of what the state of New Mexico was doing, and he’s saying we need to do a better job.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in San Diego on Friday. Trump was on a Western campaign trip which saw stops in North Dakota and Montana and two more in California. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Trump brought up additional grudges Wednesday at a rally in Anaheim, Calif. He hit Romney for refusing his help in 2012 and then losing the general election. And Haley for refusing to endorse him ahead of the South Carolina primary. And Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, for refusing to acknowledge Trump’s success. And Bush for refusing to get over losing and endorse him.
A brief respite came Thursday — the day he cleared the number of delegates needed to be the nominee — when Trump gave his only scripted speech of the week at an energy conference in Bismarck, N.D. Standing between two teleprompters, Trump seemed to find his confidence not only as a winner but as the Republican nominee that many want him to be. Trump argued that returning to more use of coal and lifting environmental regulations are keys to making the nation wealthy again.
"Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing,” Trump said. “I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”
Still, Trump continued to carry that chip on his shoulder. At a rally hours later in Billings, Mont., he listed people who said he would never be his party’s nominee.
“Ten months ago they’d say: ‘Oh, he’s not going to run. Nah, he’s just having a good time.’ I am having a good time — but, you know, I could be doing other things right now,” Trump said, putting extra emphasis on “having a good time,” as if trying to make it true.
On Friday, his final day on the trail, Trump continued to hit Republicans — but he also went after Res, whom he hired more than three decades ago to oversee the construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Res told the New York Times that Trump used to comment on her weight and often paraded around his most attractive female employees.
“My father’s from the old school — it’s okay, it’s okay to say this, right, women? — and he said: ‘Don’t put her in there, Don’t put her in,’ ” Trump said Friday morning in Fresno, Calif. “I said: ‘Dad, I’m telling you, she’s going to be fine.’ ‘Don’t put her in!’ I said: ‘Pop, she’s going to be fine. Besides that, it’s my building, I can do what I want, okay?’ Trump Tower.” He paused so the crowd could cheer his landmark skyscraper. “Nah, I had the greatest father. He’s the greatest teacher you could ever have. He was a great guy. He said: ‘All right, look, if you want to do it.’ And now I think he was right because of this.”
He also went after Clinton.
“Do you think — honestly, honestly, honestly — do you think Hillary looks presidential?” The crowd answered in unison as Trump smirked: “Noooo!”
“I don’t think so,” Trump continued, shaking his head. “And I’m not going to say it because I’m not allowed to say it because I want to be politically correct, so I refuse to say that I cannot stand her screaming into the microphone all of the time.”
Trump covered his ears as the crowd laughed and applauded.
A few hours later, Trump was at his last rally of the week, in San Diego, where thousands showed up to see him and hundreds more showed up to curse his name at a protest that became violent at times.
Trump basked in the glow of being the presumptive nominee — and then launched into a 11-minute monologue about the federal judge assigned to handle a civil case against Trump University, which is accused of defrauding students.
“Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater,” Trump said. “He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.”
Curiel sits on the federal bench in San Diego.
As Trump angrily rambled on and on — at one point, explaining why a law firm involved with the case has the name it does — the crowd grew quiet. Some turned their attention to their cellphones, while others looked around the room for something more interesting.
“The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine,” Trump said of Curiel, who was born in Indiana. “You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, okay?”
Trump tried to tie the case back to his run for the White House, noting that it has been used in attack ads against him and comparing the legal system to the “rigged” nomination system. Trump said that he could easily settle the case but refuses to give in to litigious former students. A trial has been set for November.
“We’ll come back in November,” Trump said, finally wrapping up, to the delight of his crowd. “Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president, and I come back to do a civil case?”