Trump Criticized From the Right Over 'Hit Newsom' Comment

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Former President Donald Trump’s interview on Tuesday night with Tucker Carlson was, for Trump supporters, a home run. Trump was very candid and forthcoming and covered many topics — from his recent indictment in New York to his thoughts on current U.S. foreign policy and the state of world affairs.


But it is a comment he made about California Gov. Gavin Newsom that had many on the right clutching their pearls and finding a reason to criticize Trump. As the topic turned toward the 2024 presidential election, Carlson asked Trump if he thought President Joe Biden would stay in the race. In what might be a surprising show of grace to the pearl clutchers on the right, it appeared that Trump refrained from saying what he wanted to regarding Biden’s mental state observing, “Look, I watch him just like you do, and it would be almost inappropriate for me to say.”

It was when he started talking about possible replacements on the 2024 Democrat presidential ticket that some Republicans are claiming was “inappropriate.”

Carlson asked him who he thought might run if Joe Biden does not. Trump’s first mention was Vice President Kamala Harris. He then mentioned Newsom, saying:

“You have a very ambitious guy in California, but he’s done a terrible job with the state. I used to get along great with him when I was president. Got along really good … Gavin.”

Carlson incredulously asked, “You got along with Gavin Newsom?” Trump repeated his claim of having a cordial relationship with Newsom and stated:

“I did. I really did. He was always very nice to me, said the greatest things. He would say things like, ‘He’s doing a great job.’”


Still dumbfounded, Carlson made sure he heard right and said, “About you?” Trump answered:

“About me. That’s why I could never hit him because he was so nice to me, just laying in wait right? But he was very nice to me, relatively speaking.”

It was this supposed unwillingness to take a mythical swing at Newsom that has some on the right up in arms. The most popular conclusion among those having a problem with Trump’s statement is that he is “kissing up” to a potential Democrat presidential nominee, or that somehow, Newsom is ok in Trump’s book because he spoke of him in a positive way, ignoring the fact that Trump began his remarks about Newsom saying what a terrible job he has done in California.

For what it’s worth, Newsom has spoken positively of Trump. In March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, the Trump administration assisted in the repatriation of 21 COVID-infected cruise ship passengers as the ship docked in Oakland. Newsom said of the situation and Trump:

“He said everything I could have hoped for. And we had a very long conversation and every single thing he said, they followed through on. Every single thing… has been consistent with expectation we’d repatriate these passengers and do it in a way that does justice to the spirit that defines the best of our country.”


Newsom praised Trump repeatedly for various disaster aid for California and said he wanted to put political differences aside to solve problems. In September 2020, as California was ravaged by wildfires, he again thanked Trump for a quick federal response and willingness to work together saying, “I want to thank you and acknowledge the work that you’ve done to be immediate in terms of your response.”

Republicans ought to know by now that it is a habit for Trump to remark when people have been nice to him, especially people that might not typically be expected to be so. But a question for those critics who say that Trump is somehow caving to Newsom because Newsom made a kind remark here and there: If Gavin Newsom had not been nice to Trump should Trump really have taken a swing at him? Aren’t we always reminded that Republicans are above such violence?

Supporters of Trump claimed the interview was selectively edited, leaving out the portion where Trump said Newsom had done a bad job. But watching Trump’s facial expressions, and appearing to smile or smirk as he made the comment should have maybe been a clue that he was being less than serious. Just listening to the portion of the interview where Trump talks about being totally serious with America’s foes, and that there would be consequences if they got out of line should be proof enough there is no “kissing up” with Donald Trump. For those on the right who think that was the case, and cannot see a bit of Trumpian humor going on, in the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka from “Stripes”: “Lighten up, Francis.”


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