"We're doing well with Latinos," presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump told a crowd of thousands at the top of his speech in San Jose. "Nobody knows about it about it yet."
This came just hours after Trump told the Wall Street Journal that the Hispanic federal judge involved in his Trump University lawsuit, Gonzalo Curiel, had "an absolute conflict" in the case because of his "Mexican heritage." Curiel was born in Indiana, but his parents were Mexican immigrants. It was another startling and racially charged missive from Trump against the independent bench.
His comments also came on the same day that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell wondered in an interview with CNN whether Trump's rhetoric would harm the GOP's image among Latinos. Speaker Paul Ryan, after a month of declining to endorse the presumptive nominee, finally came around to endorsing Trump, and that endorsement came hours before Trump's comments about Curiel.
Trump's poll numbers among Hispanics are dismal. In a recent Fox News Latino survey, Trump trails Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by almost 40 points among registered Latino voters.
As Trump spoke at the San Jose Convention Center, protests went on outside, a common occurrence for Trump's rallies in California. Protesters targeted Trump supporters as they left the venue after the speech, some even taking pro-Trump hats off their heads and burning them. Several of the protesters held Mexican flags.
During the speech, the business mogul was fired up. He gave a lengthy response to Clinton's foreign policy speech delivered earlier in the day, which labeled him unfit for office and thin-skinned. Trump called the address "pathetic" and "sad to watch."
He ratcheted up the rhetoric against her, declaring that Clinton has to go to prison.
"And remember I said I was a counter-puncher?" Trump roared. "I am. After what she said about me today and her phony speech. That was a phony speech. That was a Donald Trump hit job. I will say this. Hillary Clinton has to go to jail. She has to go to jail."
The speech was filled with missives against the Clintons ("Remember Hillary Clinton used to hate Obama. She used to hate him!") and more than a little surprise that the crowd had shown up for him at all, given that the first game of the NBA finals with the home-state team was taking place at the same time as his rally.
"So I said to my people, 'What the hell are you doing? Who's gonna come tonight?'" Trump said. "You have San Francisco playing the game tonight. And look at this crowd. This is unbelievable."
The finals features the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. There is no NBA team in San Francisco.
Trump didn't mention Ryan or McConnell at the speech, keeping his focus instead on the former secretary of state. He even wanted to give her a new nickname - or rather, an old nickname.
When the crowd starting chanting "Lyin' Ted," recalling one of Trump's favorite nicknames for former rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump demurred, saying he wished he could use it on Clinton.
"No I want to save that now for Hillary," Trump said. "Liar. Lyin' Hillary. Liar. Ted Cruz is no longer a liar. We don't say Lyin' ted anymore. We love Ted! We don't want to say Lyin' Ted. Lyin' Crooked Hillary!"
The crowd roared its approval.
"She's a liar. She made up my foreign policy! She said Donald Trump is going to do this, I never said that. And 'Donald Trump is going to do that.' A friend of mine was in the room and said, 'You never said you were going to do that.' I said that's right - she's makes it up. She's a bad person."
Over the years, Trump used to speak well of Clinton, calling her "terrific" multiple times. He has dismissed those compliments by saying that as a businessman, he had to be nice to everybody for political favors.
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