Trump supporters line the streets in Newport Beach in anticipation of his visit – Orange County Register

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather at the intersection of Pacific Coast Hwy and Jamboree Rd. in Newport Beach on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

Several hundred supporters of former President Donald Trump lined the streets of Newport Beach Saturday morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of the White House contender as he comes to town for a fundraiser.

Dressed in red, white and blue — some donning star-spangled top hats and large flags draped around their shoulders — ardent supporters along Jamboree Road held up signs that read, “Welcome, President Trump” and “Trump 2024, Take America Back.”

It was a party-like atmosphere Saturday morning ahead of Trump’s visit, with patriotic and classical music blaring and cheers ringing out for honking passing cars.

Trump is in town as part of a fundraising swing following his felony conviction last week. Tickets for the Newport Beach event, held at the sprawling Harbor Island home of John and Kimberly Word and jointly hosted by tech entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, range from $3,300 to attend the luncheon to $100,000.

Clare Chu, part of an “Asians for Trump” group, said she came out in support of “justice and good.”

“This is about Jesus and Satan, not about Republicans and Democrats,” said the Cypress resident. “About justice vs. political prosecution. This country is going in the wrong direction.”

Law enforcement patrolled the area, asking the crowds to remain on sidewalks and not to run into the streets.

Bayside Drive, from Jamboree Road to Pacific Coast Highway, is closed to motorists until about 3 p.m., according to the city’s plans. Local residents will be able to access the road, but only with proof of an address, like a photo ID or passport.

“I’m a big Trump supporter,” said Newport Beach resident Bob Fickinger. “The odds are against him but even some Democrats are sick of the current situation under Biden.”

Fickinger said Democrats might be caught off guard in the deep-blue state.

While Orange County has turned from a longtime Republican stronghold to a true purple region — voter registration favors Democrats over Republicans 37.4% to 33.6% and no Republican presidential candidate has won in Orange County since then-former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012  — coastal Orange County remains an area in deep-blue California where GOP candidates could still find big success in collecting cash and support.

“West LA and coastal Orange County are top areas in the country for Trump fundraising, but they’ve been so for Republicans before Trump and will be after he’s left the scene,” said Matt Jarvis, an associate professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton.

Newport Beach, in particular, is top-friendly territory for Republicans.

Where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly double, 47.7% to 25.7%, it has consistently ranked in the top few dozen cities that give generously to Trump. In 2020, the 92660 ZIP code in Newport Beach, where he held a fundraising event that October at Luckey’s Lido Isle home, was among the top 45 ZIP codes in the country where he received the most money. This year, Trump has so far raked in close to $400,000 in that ZIP code.

The former president, who turns 78 next week, is in the midst of his third bid for the White House. He was in San Francisco on Thursday and Beverly Hills on Friday night to shore up his campaign coffers.

The Beverly Hills event took place at the private residence of Lee Samson at 804 N. Elm Drive. Samson is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and owner of a chain of nursing homes. He previously hosted Trump for a fundraiser in 2019 that raised $5 million.

Beverly Hills resident Shiva Bagheri pointed to antisemitism on college campuses as a reason many local Jewish residents would be supporting Trump in November. Bagheri also pointed to inflation as a catalyst for Trump support.

“We are the highest taxed state in the country and what are we getting from it? High crime, bad infrastructure, indoctrination in schools and open borders,” she said.

Since Trump’s conviction in the hush money case last week, his campaign and the Republican National Committee have said they’ve seen an influx of donations.

Earlier this week, the campaign and RNC said they hauled in $141 million in May, attributing the support as a response to the verdict in Trump’s hush money trial. Other pro-Trump organizations brought in an additional $150 million in May, they said.

But he’s also come under fire for relying on donations to his campaign to pay for his expensive legal fees. According to some estimates, he has spent more than $100 million of donor dollars as of early 2024 to pay his lawyers.

It’s a unique situation, said Jarvis, the Cal State Fullerton professor, because the country hasn’t had a presidential candidate facing active indictments. Legality-wise, it’s a loophole, he said.

“I don’t think the law intended for this purpose for campaign spending, but the FEC hasn’t cracked down on it, and they probably can’t,” Jarvis said. “I’m positive that there’s no way the current Congress would update the law for this.”

Ethics-wise, Jarvis said he believes the fundamental question is what the purpose of campaign donations is.

“It is wrong to spend money you are given for one purpose for another, yes. But, Trump’s campaigns have always been about Trump,” he said.

Trump travels next to Nevada for another fundraiser tonight. Hosted by construction tycoon Don Ahern at the Ahern Luxury Boutique Hotel, the evening event features a price tag ranging from a modest $1,000 to an eye-popping $844,600.

Check back for updates to this story throughout the day.

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