Debate Takeaway: CA Gov. Newsom Is a Slick Used Car Salesman, but You’ll Drive Away in a Lemon

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom is either one of the most odious and oleaginous politicians on the planet—or a great environmental leader who protects abortion at all costs and works tirelessly to advance the interests of the LGBTQ community. It depends on who you ask. Unfortunately, California voters seem to take the latter view and keep him in office despite the rampant destruction of the once-Golden State.

Newsom finally agreed to debate his opponent in the gubernatorial race, State Senator Brian Dahle, after a long campaign during which the governor has acted as if his opponent was not Dahle, but Florida’s Ron DeSantis. Although he offered to face Florida’s leader on CNN (why, exactly?), Gavin only deigned to appear on the radio and YouTube with Dahle on a lovely Sunday afternoon when folks would rather be outside or watching the NFL (or Formula 1, which was making a rare appearance in the U.S.) He clearly wanted as little viewership as possible.

Must Read: Gavin Newsom Danced and Gaslighted, Brian Dahle Held His Own in the Three-on-One California Governor’s Debate by Jennifer Oliver O’Connell

The first moments of the debate blew me away and showed just how far out of touch the governor is. The interviewer asked Newsom:

Governor, you’re running ads for Proposition 1 on abortion, you’re your running ads against Proposition 30, a tax hike to fund climate goals, you’ve got ads in Florida and Texas taking on Republican governors there, but with gas prices spiking, homelessness unabated, and people leaving California because it’s too expensive, what’s the case for voters giving you another four years?

Now let me just give the interviewer props right here—that’s a damn good question, and it’s one that sorely needed to be asked. Although the moderators spent much of the rest of the interview fawning over Newsom, this was a good start. It’s just too bad that Gavin had no interest in answering:

Well I think the case on Proposition 1 is crystal-clear clear, and the contrast with my opponent couldn’t be more crytal-clear. He does not support reproductive freedom, he does not support reproductive choice, regardless of rape or incest, and he’s contributed $20,000 to defeat Proposition 1. I’ve worked with legislators to get Proposition 1 on the ballot; it’s foundational to the core values of the State of California and something that I enthusiastically support.

At this point even the moderator had to jump in, realizing that Newsom was just going to continue to bloviate on about the extreme abortion measure Proposition 1 while ignoring the gas prices, homelessness, and quality of life issues that he had asked about. Moderator: “But what about your record, that’s what I’m really asking about.”

Newsom answered by bragging that the state was at that very moment sending out $9.5 billion in “inflation checks.” Now let me get this straight—your signature achievement is that you took our money from us with crazy gas and sales taxes but now we’re supposed to be grateful because you’re giving a little back?

Newsom then goes on to blast fossil fuels, of course. But here’s what I found so galling:

…I’m very proud of our record over the course of the last few years, I’m very proud of the work we’ve done to seed reforms into the future, I’m very proud of the efforts we’re making as it relates to these ballot initiatives, as well, particularly, again, on Proposition 1.

“Seed reforms into the future,” what the heck does that mean? It’s this absolute hubris that so many find so hard to take from this governor. His record is one of unmitigated disaster since his days as San Francisco mayor, where he left office with the city as a crime-infested hellhole, through his current days as governor where he confidently crows about his achievements as the state crumbles. For the first time in history, California’s population has declined amidst a mass exodus of businesses and citizens, and yet we’re supposed to cheer on Newsom’s accomplishments in handing out stimulus checks (instead of suspending the gas tax, by the way) and protecting abortion up until the moment of birth.

Like Kamala Harris, Newsom delivers ridiculous word salads that sound like he threw a bunch of buzzwords into a blender and spit them out in a sentence. Unlike the unfortunate Vice President, however, Gavin doesn’t giggle and act like a schoolgirl, so he actually sounds intelligent as he delivers his utterings. It’s only afterward you think, wait, what on earth did he actually say?

It’s so bad that Cal Matters thought up a brilliant Newsom “Lingo Bingo” game to help you translate:

The fact is, Newsom is a polished used car salesman. There’s a reason so many make fun of his copious use of hair gel—it’s because it’s a manifestation of his artifice. He’ll try to convince you a broken-down, beat-up car is actually a Corvette—and then he’ll make you pay more to make sure it’s electric. (Although he won’t mention that you won’t be able to power it up when the grid inevitably fails.)

You’ll almost believe him.

But don’t. And when he inevitably runs for president, America, which he will, whether in 2024 or 2028—don’t buy what he’s selling.

Here’s the salesman at work back in 2012, vowing to end homelessness:

Spoiler alert: this plan was a lemon too.


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