President Trump’s Visit

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

When Air Force One deposited Donald Trump at Moffat Field in Mountain View the other day he was landing in enemy territory. And there were no peace offerings to be had. 

In fact for fear of inciting demonstrations, his stealth visits to well-heeled supporters in four cities has been kept under tight wraps.

There were reasons to take such precautions: Trump has sworn holy war against California, which he has singled out for special abuse as he accelerates his campaign for re-election. 

There would be no cheering crowds for the nation’s leader who came to the Bay Area mainly to collect large troves of cash of which $3 million was raised at a posh luncheon thrown at the lavish Portola Valley estate of Sun Microsystems co-founder and tech tycoon Scott McNealy.  

McNealy is one among a few Silicon Valley business leaders who have been willing to support Trump publicly.

The generous donors each of whom had to pop for between $1,000 and $100,000 to dine with the leader might as well have mailed in their donations for all the interest his administration has shown in helping the state.   

The event allegedly netted about $3 million—not too shabby for a 90 minute visit. All told the Trump campaign has raised more than $6.5 million in large-dollar donations from Golden State Republicans.

This foray, which featured other stops in Los Angeles and San Diego, is expected to increase the haul by another $10 million or so. That should be no problem for GOP givers who still enjoy whatever influence they wield while Trump remains in the Oval Office. 

Not too surprisingly, San Francisco—possibly the most anti-Trump city in the nation— is not on the itinerary though a stop here would be a poke in the eye to House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who may be Trump’s most feared adversary. 

California has never been a flyover state for White House residents though it was home for Presidents, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan who were both familiar faces to California voters.

No modern president, however has entered a third year in office before having paid the state at least one visit.

The Trump team realizes that this impenetrable Democratic bastion where Hillary Clinton out-polled him in 2016 by more than 4 million votes is hostile territory mainly attractive for one reason—-to collect big wads of paper money!

Of course the Democrat candidates will soon be swarming all over the state for the same reason. But they have a bigger prize in mind. 

With its giant cache of 55 electoral votes—the largest of any state’s—-the 2020 presidential primary, which was moved back from June to March suddenly makes California a pivotal battleground once again. 

Ronald Reagan kept California in the Red column in 1984 with a resounding 17% victory margin over his hapless opponent, Minnesota Democrat Walter Mondale, on way to a landslide victory when he captured 49 of the 50 states. 

George H.W. Bush repeated the trick in 1988 beating Gov. George Dukakis of Massachusetts here by a much smaller margin.

It was not until 1992 when Bill Clinton returned the state to the Blue column where it has remained ever since. Texan Lyndon Johnson was the only previous Democrat to turn the tables on the GOP thoroughly trouncing his opponent, Barry Goldwater, winning 61% of the popular vote. 

Since Bush no Republican and no Californian– Democrat or Republican– has been a threat to win the presidency. If any of Trump’s handlers are telling him otherwise they are having pipedreams. 

Trump, however, has gone out of his way to alienate Californians zeroing in just prior to his arrival among other perceived maladies on the state’s growing homelessness problem.

Referring to Los Angeles and San Francisco and the state’s Democratic leadership he thundered, “What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country.” 

If Trump is claiming California as his own he may be smoking some powerful stuff that just became legal. 

He then suggested vaguely that he would take some sort of federal action (referring to our visible urban plight) to “clean it up.” 

One thing the president is apparently not interested in helping to clean up is the state’s toxic automobile carbon emissions, which were the prime target of the California’s first-in-the nation Clean Air Act passed in 1970 and strengthened further during the Obama Administration. 

This has rankled Trump who has taken noticeable steps to thoroughly emasculate the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—a move not very popular in a state that has sounded a loud whistle to do as much as possible to limit climate change. 

Trump has now gone to federal court to sue California for its failure to revoke a waiver, which allowed the state to adopt stricter environmental standards and has also taken anti-trust action against four major automakers who have vowed to produce zero-emission vehicles. 

None of this is sitting well with Gov. Gavin Newsom who has ordered his Attorney General to take the necessary counter-measures. Newsom is one Californian who could have a future eye on the presidency along with the state’s junior Senator, Kamala Harris, who is already making a bid. 

In short, Trump may have repeated success filling his campaign coffers on additional visits. But the California GOP is not likely to see any bump in its voter rolls, which now trails both the Democrats and even Independents by increasing margins.  

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