GOP presidential candidate and poll leader Donald Trump is in Southern California this week and controversy is again following him.
He is speaking Tuesday night as guest of a veterans group on the USS Iowa, where protesters are scheduled to greet him and, tomorrow, he headlines Wednesday's Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley where competitors are gunning for him.
Among Southern California residents, his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants have had a predictable, polarizing impact.
San Pedro resident Gabriela Lopez says she was at UCLA when a friend turned to her, and showed her a video clip of Trump speaking about Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” he said during a New York City speech in June announcing his presidential bid.
Lopez, a teacher who is studying to be a doctor, felt overwhelmed with anger. Her parents are from Mexico and her father was at one time undocumented. When Lopez found out Trump would be coming to her hometown, she launched a petition protesting his speech aboard the USS Iowa.
“Latinos are very powerful and very big in numbers in this country and to be used as scapegoats is not something that I am pleased with and not something that I will ever stand by,” she said.
Orange County resident Joanne Kukier planned to attend the USS Iowa event. She sees a lot to like in Trump. She’s never voted before, but said Trump will get her to the ballot box.
“I think his ability to negotiate bills, I think his ability to run large companies successfully," she said, listing reasons she supports him. Kukier paid $250 for her ticket and will drive up from her home in the Tustin Ranch community of Tustin. "Rain storm, snow, sleet, whatever I would arrive there. I feel very driven about this,” she said.
Kukier is in line with California Republicans. A new USC/LA Times poll shows that Trump is the frontrunner in the state.