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Hoping To Put Negative Press Behind Him, Trump Hits Campaign Trail


Donald Trump has promised that as president he would use his business background on behalf of the country. But now some of Trump's sales tactics are under scrutiny. This week, a federal judge unsealed documents in a lawsuit accusing his now-defunct Trump University real estate program a fraud. NPR's Sarah McCammon has more from Sacramento where Trump campaigned last night.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: As he returned to the campaign trail in California, Donald Trump made a familiar promise.


DONALD TRUMP: And we're going to make trade deals, the likes of which our country has never made.

MCCAMMON: Trump didn't mention the raw deal some former Trump University students say they got. Newly unsealed documents reveal the high-pressure sales tactics used by employees of his real estate courses to encourage attendees to spend thousands of dollars on classes and mentoring, none of which led to a degree. Instead, Trump focused on what he'd hoped would be the headline this week.


TRUMP: So I raised almost $6 million for the veterans. And the press was killing me.


TRUMP: Unbelievable.

MCCAMMON: On Tuesday, Trump held a press conference after journalists questioned whether veterans' groups had received the donations he claimed from a fundraiser he hosted earlier this year. Much of the money was given only after inquiries from reporters. At the press conference, Trump went after reporters for raising the issue, calling them sleazy and dishonest. Last night at his rally in Sacramento, Trump repeated that theme.


TRUMP: These are bad people, folks, just in case you haven't figured. They are bad, bad people.

MCCAMMON: The controversies over Trump University and the veterans' fundraiser created openings for his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. She said the press shamed Trump into donating the remaining funds. Speaking at a campaign event in New Jersey, Clinton also accused Trump of taking advantage of vulnerable people through Trump University.


HILLARY CLINTON: He is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.

MCCAMMON: But for several Trump supporters in Sacramento, who stood in line in the afternoon sun and packed a steamy airport hangar to hear Trump speak yesterday, those accusations don't mean much.

PAM PINKSTON: I think it's a big ado about nothing. Those kind of businesses are all - they're all like that.

MCCAMMON: Pam Pinkston (ph) of Fair Oaks, Calif. says she'll probably vote for Trump in November. And she's not concerned about the sales tactics described in the Trump University lawsuits.

PINKSTON: I mean, you know, if you can't take accountability for how much money you spend for something, who are you going to blame? Yourself - should be.

MCCAMMON: Many Trump supporters say they believe him when he promises a turnaround for the country at home and abroad.


TRUMP: We're going to bring our jobs back. We're going to bring wealth back to our country. We don't have wealth right now. We have poverty.

MCCAMMON: Trump is asking Californians for a big show of support in the GOP primary next week, even though he's already the presumptive nominee. He's also reminding them to turn out in November - the same month, as it happens, when a Trump University fraud case is set to go to trial. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Sacramento. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.

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