Donald Trump used the night of Hillary Clinton claiming the Democratic nomination to reach out to crushed Bernie Sanders fans and encourage them to vote Trump.
“For all of those Bernie Sanders voters who will be left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms,” Trump said in remarks on Tuesday at Trump National Golf Club Westchester in New York.
Trump supporters, resplendent in cocktail dresses, pastel polo shirts, suits with red ties and Make America Great Again caps, cheered as the Republican presumptive nominee extended the olive branch to Sanders supporters.
“The terrible trade deals, that Bernie was so vehemently against – and he’s right on that – will be taken care of far better than anyone ever thought possible. And that’s what I do. We’re going to have fantastic trade deals,” Trump said.
His wife and adult children were by his side as he read off a polished speech from two teleprompters, which listed his future policies on energy, trade and foreign policy as “America first” ideas in a clear attempt to try and unite the Republican party as it argues over comments Trump made regarding federal judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage.
After days of being slammed for his comments about Curiel – Trump said the judge was treating him unfairly in the case against Trump University because of his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico – Trump did not address the issue directly, although he did speak about being a “fighter”.
“I know some people say I’m too much of a fighter. My preference is always peace, however, and I’ve shown that, I’ve shown that for a long time,” Trump said.
House speaker Paul Ryan, who was reluctant at first to endorse Trump for president, on Tuesday denounced the candidate’s remarks as “the textbook definition of a racist comment”. However, he said that he would still vote for Trump.
But Trump tried to turn his history of aggressive comments into a positive tonight. “If I’m forced to fight for something I really care about, I will never, ever back down and our country will never, ever back down,” he told the gathered crowd, to huge cheers.
“I’ve fought for my family, I’ve fought for my business, I’ve fought for my employees, and now I’m going to fight for you, the American people, like nobody has ever fought before,” he said.
“Just remember this: I’m going to be your champion, I’m going to be America’s champion,” he said to supporters sitting under huge chandeliers in his opulent gold-themed golf club.
Trump also targeted Clinton and husband Bill, declaring that the pair have gotten rich off selling access to themselves (although Trump himself has also become wealthy by selling himself as a personal brand). “The Clintons have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form for themselves, he said promising a speech about the Clintons next week, probably Monday. “I think you’re going to find it very informative,” he said.