Advertisement

Essential Politics: The wall, the fundraising, the traffic as Trump comes to California

Essential Politics: The wall, the fundraising, the traffic as Trump comes to California
Essential Politics (LAT)

He came, he saw, he raised money, he tweeted.

And less than 24 hours later, President Trump is headed back East — after leaving Los Angeles smack dab in the middle of the morning commute.

Advertisement

Trump's first visit to California was equal parts bravado and stagecraft, with a dash of campaign fundraising and a few jabs at the Golden State thrown in for good measure.

Yes, there's also huge political news on the other side of the country for him to respond to once he's back in Washington: a Cabinet member who's gotten the ax and a too-close-to-call special election in a Pennsylvania House district that's been solidly Republican for a very long time.

But let's start in our own backyard, shall we? After all, our Times team of reporters and photographers were with Trump every step of the way — providing a lively news feed on all of Tuesday's presidential events.

TRUMP TOUTS THE WALL

The unique nature of Trump's trip to California was evident from the very moment Air Force One landed near San Diego. There was no big welcoming party from state leaders, all Democrats. But even Republicans — both Californian Republicans who are holding office and GOP candidates — were absent from their party leader's visit.

Reps. Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa were some of the only elected officials or candidates spotted with Trump throughout the day.

Not that the president was deterred on a trip primarily for him to get an up-close look at proposals for perhaps the centerpiece of his 2016 election: a massive new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

And lest anyone think there wouldn't be anything unexpected during his visit to the site near San Diego where prototypes of new walls have been built, Trump offered a new rationale for the project — one without any proof.

"It will save thousands and thousands of lives, save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing crime, drug flow, welfare fraud and burdens on schools and hospitals," he said. "The wall will save hundreds of billions of dollars — many, many times what it's going to cost."

Yes, the president offered a little criticism of Gov. Jerry Brown, saying the Democrat is "doing a terrible job" of leading California. (Naturally, Brown responded with a slightly different take on how things are going in the state.)

TRUMP'S CASH GRAB

After his speech to Marines at Miramar, the president was off to Beverly Hills for a private fundraising dinner benefiting the Republican National Committee. His hosts for the evening were Edward Glazer, the co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wife Sheri Glazer.

It was clear there would be no leaked video of the closed press event. "Absolutely no cell phones," read a sign outside of the venue.

Advertisement

THE PROTESTERS

The arrival of a president with a 26% approval rating among California adults in the most recent statewide poll undoubtedly was going to draw protesters, and plenty of people showed up to jeer Trump throughout the day.

(There were protesters on the Mexican side of the border, too.)

In Beverly Hills, the scene was as much a party as it was a protest. Street vendors sold hot dogs, a live band played music, and a stage was set up for speakers.

And as many as 300 people were waiting for the nation's 45th president as his motorcade pulled into the downtown L.A. hotel Tuesday night, where their anti-Trump message was displayed in lights.

Be sure to check out the best of Trump's California day in photos. And peruse Trump's history of tweets about California, a list that grew even on the day of the trip.

TILLERSON IS OUT: THE 'REXIT'

For much of the nation, the Trump news of Tuesday that stood out was his decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The long-simmering conflict between the commander-in-chief and his top diplomat finally came to a head, as the president confirmed the news via Twitter, about four hours after Tillerson cut short a weeklong trip to Africa and rushed back to Washington. The former CEO of Exxon Mobil will leave his post at month's end.

It is the latest in the long list — one you can see here — of notable departures from an administration that is still just 14 months old.

Advertisement

Once confirmed, the new secretary will be Mike Pompeo, currently serving as CIA director. And in Pompeo, the president gets someone on his "wavelength" who has political skills Tillerson lacked. That could help the former Kansas congressman, since foreign governments are likely to view him as speaking directly for Trump on Iran, North Korea and other key issues.

Pompeo's elevation means Trump needs a new CIA director, and he's chosen Deputy Director Gina Haspel, who would be the first woman to run the nation's premier spy agency. But her confirmation hearings may focus more on her role in the agency's torture of terrorism suspects and the destruction of key evidence more than a decade ago.

PENNSYLVANIA'S 18TH: DOWN TO THE WIRE

Everyone who follows politics has an opinion about what happened in the Pennsylvania special election held on Tuesday. The only thing anyone can safely say is that the House seat in play has long been safely ensconced in GOP territory … but not any longer.

Democrat Conor Lamb held on to a razor-thin lead as the night ended, but it was unclear whether it will be enough to hold off state lawmaker Rick Saccone.

Still, many saw it as another example of a troubling trend for Republicans with regular midterm elections right around the corner.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Is Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin the next one to be shown the door in the Trump White House?

-- A previously withheld video has been released showing the heckling of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a recent speech about the economy at UCLA.

-- A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld the bulk of Texas' crackdown on "sanctuary cities" in a victory for the Trump administration as part of its aggressive fight against measures seen as protecting immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

DEADLINE DAY FOR THE LAST CALIFORNIA HOPEFULS

California election law makes today the last day for candidates to file in races where there's no incumbent. And all eyes are on a pair of Southern California House districts where Democrats think they have a chance to flip the map from red to blue.

That is, if a plethora of Democratic candidates don't split the vote so thinly that Republicans advance to November's election. On Tuesday, Democrat Jay Chen dropped out of the crowded race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce. National Democrats praised his decision.

We'll keep a close eye on developments all day on our Essential Politics news feed.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

-- Two prominent California Democrats quickly seized on the presidential visit Tuesday in hopes of generating a little buzz.

-- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to explore regulations on firearms, including restricting sales to anyone under 21, banning .50-caliber handguns, strengthening safe storage laws and prohibiting gun sales near schools.

-- An Irvine-based website that links patients and consumers with marijuana providers has responded to a cease-and-desist letter from state cannabis regulators by arguing it is protected by federal law.

-- A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco resigned his post, disillusioned by what he called falsehoods spread by Trump administration officials after a four-day sweep last month, according to reports.

-- Californians who buy guns or ammunition would have to pay a new fee to fund more counselors and safety officers at schools under a state Assembly bill proposed in response to the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school.

-- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has endorsed Republican John Cox in the race for governor.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You can keep up with breaking news on our politics page throughout the day. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Miss Monday's newsletter? Here you go.

Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

Advertisement

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox.

Advertisement
Advertisement