Trump calls for GOP unity but continues intraparty attacks
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) — Campaigning in a pair of crucial battleground states, Donald Trump bashed Democrats and Republicans alike Saturday, from Hillary Clinton to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
First at a convention center in Tampa, Florida, and then in an airport hangar outside Pittsburgh, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee tore into fellow Republicans who have been slow to back him, again dashing hopes among some in the party that Trump would solely train his fire on his likely general election foe.
“I’d like to see Republican leadership be very strong, very smart and you got to be cool,” he said in Moon Township, Penn., saying that Republicans risked losing seats in the House and Senate.
“If not, I’m gonna win but a lot of other people are not,” Trump said. “We are going to win either way.”
He saved his most vicious broadsides for Romney, who speaking Saturday at a GOP retreat in Utah, said that in a race between Clinton and Trump, “either choice is destructive.”
“Mitt Romney is a sad case. He choked,” Trump said. “You know what a choke artist is? You know a guy who missed a kick, you get rid of him, right? He choked like a dog.”
Trump also revived “Crooked Hillary,” his favorite moniker for Clinton, calling her a “maniac.” He again went after another one of his vocal critics — Sen. Elizabeth Warren — calling her “Pocahontas,” a reference to her Native American ancestry.
“I said yes, I will apologize: to Pocahontas,” he said in Tampa. “To Pocahontas I will apologize, because Pocahontas is insulted.”
The speeches Saturday — which echoed the combative tone of his events during the primaries — may do little to reassure weary Republicans that he will moderate his temperament in the lead up to the general election. But the campaign did take one small step toward improving its voter data collection efforts, which have come under some criticism for being insufficient.
At the Pennsylvania stop, volunteers staffed a merchandise stand and those that bought hats or shirts left their information with the campaign. While selling paraphernalia is a staple feature at most campaign rallies, the Trump team had largely eschewed selling merchandise at rallies, allowing bootleggers to sell unofficial versions outside the venues.
The Trump campaign dismissed concerns about crowd size on Trump’s first general election campaign swing, saying the events were only announced a few days prior. The rally in Tampa was not as well-attended as the typical Trump rally, as was an event in Richmond, Virginia, Friday. The Pennsylvania event, held at a smaller venue, attracted more supporters.
Trump — who says he is expanding his campaign slogan to be “Make America Great For Everyone” — hugged an American flag to demonstrate his love for his country and it wasn’t the only display of affection at the Tampa rally:
Toward the end of his speech, supporters broke into a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Trump turns 70-years old on June 14.
As his supporters began singing, Trump laughed and said “I don’t want to hear about it.”
He said he’s “very torn” about the birthday, but added: “I feel like I’m 35. That’s the good news.”
Bustos reported from Tampa, Florida.