Donald Trump called for shooting store robbers on Friday in a bleak speech to California Republicans –and warned “this country will die!” if Joe Biden remained president.
During the address to GOP members, Trump also railed that wealthy Beverly Hills residents smell because of water denials, and repeated election fraud lies, according to the Associated Press.
Related: Biden warns voters a second Trump presidency will threaten democracy
“We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” Trump said, spurring applause. “Shot!”
The rhetoric is in keeping with Trump’s tough-on-crime mantra but signified a ramped up emphasis on punishment. Trump has previously pitched shooting migrants to keep them from entering the US.
The former defense secretary Mark Esper has said that Trump asked about shooting George Floyd protesters. He also floated imposing the death penalty on convicted drug dealers, cop-killers and human traffickers, AP said.
Several other GOP presidential hopefuls also attended the event. It is unlikely that California voters will pick a Republican during the general election, but any GOP candidate that triumphs in this state’s primary sees an easier path to the nomination.
California has 169 delegates up for grabs and a novel change in rules could give Trump, who is leading the GOP pack, a leg up. Under this new rule, Trump would take each of California’s delegates should he garner more than 50% of its primary vote, AP explained.
The intensified calls for action come as Biden lapped Trump in campaign fundraising. Biden’s team reported $72m during quarter two and $77m in cash on hand – “more than doubling Trump’s haul” Mediaite said, citing the first FEC filing for the 2024 campaign.
“With your support, we will overcome the vicious attacks from the deep state and evict crooked Joe Biden from the White House. He’s the most corrupt president in our history,” Trump said in demanding donations. “He’s the most incompetent president in our history. And this country will die if we have to go through another four years of this guy!”
The heated appeals to voters correspond to Trump’s efforts to separate himself from his Republican competitors, none of whom appear poised to best him in primaries. He skipped a GOP debate this week and elected to rally in Michigan instead, in an apparent effort to woo laborers in a pivotal election state, AP said.
Trump’s scaremongering proclamations come on the eve of a New York civil trial this coming week that threatens his eponymous businesses with potentially ruinous fines. He also faces criminal proceedings in Georgia, Florida, New York and Washington DC.