(AP) April 11, 2016 Ouray, Colorado.
On Sunday evening, billionaire Real Estate Developer Donald J. Trump began his glide-path to the Republican National Convention by meeting with some of the grass-roots activists who have been so instrumental in his stunningly successful “outsider” campaign.
Sitting at one of the high-top bar-stools at the Ouray Brewery, Donald J. Trump was in a “jolly” yet reserved mood as he met with supporters and other diners. “The people of Colorado are just amazing,” he said, “Even though this latest version of their state nominating caucus was a bit, well, different, I had some really fantastic people on the ground here, and we won all 34 delegates. It is really, really satisfying to see the hard work of all of these volunteers pay off.”
“It takes tremendous sacrifice to put yourself out there as a delegate to a state convention like this, and I just want to really give all of my supporters a big thank you for all of your time, and help and support.”
Jeremy Evans, from Fort Collins said to Mr. Trump at the Brewery meet and greet: “It’s an honor to support you, Mr. Trump”.
It was an understated moment for Mr Trump, given that the Colorado Republican state nominating conventions were the ones that put the final delegates in place for Trump to have the majority of those required for his nomination this summer in Cleveland.
“My staff here in Colorado was concerned earlier in this process because the state party apparatus was, I guess, worried about the sheer number of people who threw their hats in the ring when this whole (presidential election) thing started. What were there, seventeen of us?
“Anyway, the Colorado Republican Party thought it might be smart to not have their delegates bound with so many people potentially dropping out of the race, and their delegation being pretty devalued because of it. I can’t say I blame them, it was probably a wise thing. Well, I just told my staff, hey, if I can get a building permit in Manhattan, I’m pretty sure I can navigate the delegate allocation process in Denver!”
And “Navigate it” Trump did.
The consensus of Mr. Trump’s supporters are that he is showing the political world how things can get done efficiently, with grace and class and, as Mr. Trump is fond of saying, “Under Budget and Over Nice”.
Trump started almost immediately building the infrastructure and staff needed to engage effectively at the local level right after his announcement as a candidate in the early summer of last year. Shortly after his New York announcement, he seemed to almost disappear from public view; but, as it turns out, he was rolling up his sleeves and building the national campaign that has become the wonder of the political world this presidential season.
Pat Caddell, Mr. Trump’s National Communications Director, put it this way: “Mr. Trump came to me early last winter, back in ’15, and asked me to give him the best strategy I could for him to win. We worked together for nearly four months laying the ground work, getting staffed up, renting office space, the works. He pretty much said to me, ‘You are the professional, I’m just a man concerned about the future. Tell me what to do, and we will do it’. And, since then, he’s been extraordinarily disciplined, and focused. And, I must say, sparing no expense to see that all of us supporting him have what we need in terms of financial and all other resources. It’s completely unlike any political effort I’ve ever been involved with”
Mr. Caddell finished by saying, “And, you see these efforts paying off in places that normally are ignored by the beltway politicians. Who would think of trying to wrap up the nomination by paying as much attention to votes in South Carolina as you would to conventioneers in Denver? But, Mr Trump said to us at the beginning: These are all Americans, and I want to treat them like I treat my customers: Each one is as important as the next.”
The strategy has left Mr. Trump’s competitors flat-footed and in his rear-view mirror.
Sitting at the table at the Ouray Brewery, Trump said of his now-vanquished fellow candidates: “Oh, what a lovely time it’s been these last ten months. What a fantastic group of men and women. They love their country so much, I’m just so blessed to have met them and gotten to know them on the campaign trail. We never got nasty with one another, and we just talked about policy and substance and where we want to go as a country. So much different than Hillary and that Sanders guy, huh?”
Trump was in a very gracious mood, now especially that his nomination was a mere formality.
“You know who impressed me the most? Senator Cruz. He’s just rock solid, a very fine young man with a lovely family. And, man does he know his stuff! He gave us quite a scare in Iowa, but, it was what our campaign needed for us to reflect about what we could be doing better. It’s what helped get us back on track for Super Tuesday, and beyond.”
“Now, I’ve always had my differences with Jeb Bush, but, his father and brother are some of the best men our country has to offer”
When asked if he would consider any of his former competitors for positions in any future Trump Administration, Trump responded whole-heartedly: “Absolutely. Can you imagine a Secretary of State Fiorina? An Attorney General Cristie? A Vice President Cruz? Or Rick Perry over at the Defense Department? We have so much depth, so much talent. Whoever the democrats have, they are all basically a carbon copy of Barack Obama. Can you imagine?”
Trump also visited briefly with future airmen at the Air Force Academy later that evening. From Colorado, Mr. Trump travels back to New York to begin the next leg of his election journey.