President Trump stopped in Rancho Mirage for a golf fundraiser Wednesday, then later flew to Bakersfield, part of a trip aimed at shoring up Central Valley Republicans ahead of California’s March 3 primary.
Loudspeakers blasted Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” as Trump took the stage at Bakersfield’s Meadows Field, telling the cheering crowd he would bring more water to farmers after “decades of failure and delay.”
Trump was introduced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who told the crowd that he wanted “people to understand that not all of California is alike.” Among those onstage were Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Visalia), whom Trump described as a “warrior.”
The White House had billed Trump’s Bakersfield visit as related to federal water policy and the needs of farmers. But it also had the appearance of a campaign event, with Trump slamming Democrats seeking the presidential nomination. During his address, the president called Sen. Bernie Sanders “Crazy Bernie” and commented on Michael Bloomberg’s “hatred of the farmer,” without citing evidence for that claim.
Trump also took more shots at California, lamenting the “billions and billions” spent on high-speed rail, with little to show for it. “Pretty soon it will be like a mile long,” Trump said, referring to the bullet train.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump landed at Palms Springs International Airport shortly after 10:30 a.m., and then was transported to Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison’s Porcupine Creek golf course in Rancho Mirage. Ellison hosted a golf outing and photos with Trump for $100,000, and photos, golf and a round-table discussion with Trump for $250,000, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.
McCarthy previously welcomed Trump’s visit while speaking Sunday on Fox News.
“We have a real concern in California because we send most of our water out to the ocean [instead of] sending it down to Southern California, to our farmlands in the San Joaquin Valley and others,” McCarthy said. “This president has worked greatly using science — not based on politics but on science — to allow to have more of that water stay with the Californians and America to make sure we’re secure in our food supply as we move forward.”
While in Bakersfield, presided over an announcement by the Interior Department that it is rolling back endangered species protections that have curbed water deliveries to Central Valley farmers and Southern California cities.
Trump has previously attacked the fish protections as a waste of water, echoing the complaints of Central Valley Republicans. In 2018, he directed federal agencies to boost irrigation deliveries to the valley, a move that particularly benefited the Westlands Water District.
The sprawling agricultural district is a former client of Interior Secretary Bernhardt, who was a partner in one of the nation’s top-grossing lobbying and law firms before joining the Trump administration.
Later Wednesday, Trump is scheduled to fly to Phoenix for an evening campaign rally before heading to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a rally Thursday and heading to Las Vegas for another on Friday.
Ellison’s fundraiser for Trump went ahead despite protests from some Oracle employees, who said in a statement that the president “does not affirm Oracle’s core values of diversity, inclusiveness, and ethical business conduct.” Contributions from the event will go to Trump Victory, a fundraising committee involving the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and state Republican chapters.
On Tuesday, Trump was in Beverly Hills, where he slammed Los Angeles officials for opposing his crackdown on illegal immigration and over the city’s homelessness crisis, reiterating points he made during his last visit to California in September. This week’s trip marks Trump’s fifth to California as president, two weeks ahead of the state’s primary.
In Beverly Hills, Trump was asked about the rising number of California residents experiencing homelessness.
“We’re really taking a role in it,” Trump said. “I see it. I see what’s happening to L.A. I see what’s happening to San Francisco. I see what’s happening to some great cities. ... You have needles, you have things that we don’t want to discuss all over the streets.”
He added that so-called sanctuary cities, which limit their policing agencies’ involvement in immigration enforcement, were “very dangerous” and that L.A. and San Francisco had one thing in common: “the leadership.”
“There’s no reason this should’ve happened,” Trump said about rising homelessness.
It was a similar tone to earlier in the day when, as he was traveling to Los Angeles, Trump took aim at Mayor Eric Garcetti, who on Friday spoke out against a new immigration crackdown by the Trump administration.
In that crackdown, federal immigration officials plan to add more resources in sanctuary cities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will deploy 50 Border Patrol agents and 50 field operations customs officers in nine areas, according to the agency. Specially trained officers will be sent to cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
On Friday, Garcetti and LAPD Chief Michel Moore released a video in which they assured Angelenos that local police wouldn’t be working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Regardless of your immigration status, I want every Angeleno to know your city is on your side. Here in Los Angeles, our police department does not coordinate with ICE or participate in immigration enforcement,” Garcetti said on Twitter.
Trump on Tuesday fired back with a tweet: “The Mayor’s efforts to shield illegal aliens endangers the lives of the public and law enforcement who have to go into the field to apprehend those released. He shouldn’t be urging illegals to beat the system, he should be urging them to safely turn themselves in!”