Talk Radio Host and Political Pundit Larry Elder has been riding high in the polls, despite doing minimal grassroots campaigning, focusing on big money donor fundraisers and large-scale events like FreedomFest.
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) August 9, 2021
Will this hold? Elder failed to show up to the Recall candidate gubernatorial debate, deeming it a “circular firing squad”. No word on whether he plans to attend the second one scheduled for August 19.
So will popularity and a big platform carry him into the governor’s mansion?
Elder was very comfortable at the FreedomFest event because he was among like minds and a friendly crowd. He also was limited to 25 minutes of speaking time. Elder didn’t talk much about why he chose to run for California governor, or what he would do as a governing platform if he won. He did what Elder does: bring up reading and statistics to prove his talking points. Elder is strongest when he speaks personally about his own background. The times he spoke about his father and their relationship, or his own formative experiences that would undergird his governing policies, is when he came off as credible, personable, and grounded. Everything else were things that you could hear listening to his radio program.
Where Elder was less comfortable was in an hour-long, sit-down interview with the opinion editors of the McClatchy Group, who publish the Bee papers in the State (Sacramento, Fresno, Modesto), the Merced Sun-Star, and the Tribune.
The first question from Tad Weber at the Fresno Bee was a softball. Weber rattled off what a powerhouse the State is (5th largest economy, yada yada yada), and he wanted to know, “specifically what experience you have in running complicated organizations? And what qualifies you specifically to think you can become California’s next governor?”
Elder first questioned Newsom’s experience of being practically handed every office he held, and the condition the State was currently in. Fair points that we have all heard before.
Then Elder compared his background as a popular and syndicated radio host and columnist, and business owner to Ronald Reagan’s background as an actor and head of the Screen Actors Guild before becoming a successful, two-term governor. Then Elder attempted to blunt what appeared to be a bit of a brag by saying,
“I’m not comparing myself to Ronald Reagan, what I’m saying is sometimes political experience doesn’t tell you anything if you don’t have common sense and good judgment.”
While Elder shared that his father’s path from poverty to the middle class could not happen in today’s California, he riffed on the high cost of living in the State, how it was driving people from the State, and how this governor’s policies were doing nothing to mitigate this.
So, Elder’s answer was sort of a non-answer:
“I think it’s about common sense, and good judgment, and I think I’ve got that.”
The second question from Weber at the Fresno Bee was logical next steps: What would he do on Day 1 should he win the race to succeed Newsom?
“One of the things I’m going to do is declare a statewide emergency on homelessness.”
This was businessman John Cox’s plan too, and you could almost feel the sideye from the group of opinion journalists, the same way you felt the sideeye when Cox said almost the exact same thing at the debate.
Elder said he’s going to “do something” about CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), so that low-income housing for the homeless, and people of low-income, could be built faster. Elder also said he is going to “do something” about education, and crime by urging for the Recall of bad D.A.s like L.A. County’s George Gascon and S.F. County’s Chesa Boudin. Elder also said he’d tone down the rhetoric on Defund the Police, and stop the release of violent offenders.
It’s the “do something” language that is troubling, particularly from someone with over 23 years of professional writing experience. Does he not have any policy steps? Plans for enactment of his policies? Elder freely mentions all the “experts” who are advising him on his campaign. Have these experts not come up actual plans that he can speak about?
If this was a typical election cycle, these things would play out in due course. But the special Recall election is 34 days away and ballots are already being sent. So, you would think Elder would have a more concrete policy structure in place on which he could more clearly articulate.
Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee did some follow up on Elder’s numbers and statistics about the police, and Elder’s assessment that excessive amounts of lethal deadly force against Blacks was “a lie”. Then Elder talked about his father’s advice when encountering the police to, “just comply”.
Whatever your perspective on this issue, I can guarantee you this: Elder did not help himself with Black voters in California with the advice to just comply. Using it as a radio discussion launch is one thing. Using it as a focus of governance is quite another.
Then Breton got into the weeds of election integrity, whether Dementia Joe Biden won the election, “fair and square”, the Big Lie, and of course the January 6 kerfuffle.
This is more a reflection of the progressive leanings of this bunch that this question was even asked. It seems that Elder failed to see that Breton was simply working to further Newsom’s narrative of the Recall being about radical Republicans, Trump supporters, and Q-Anon members, because he fell right into it.
This is the answer that was edited and made the rounds on Twitter:
Uh oh bye bye 🐀💩
— Mary2604 (@Mary26041) August 10, 2021
“Yes, I do believe Biden won the election fairly, and squarely.”
That portion is what went viral yesterday on Twitter, and spurred these reactions:
WTF: Larry Elder: “Biden won the election fair and square”.
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) August 10, 2021
Does Juanita Broaddrick live in California? Okay…
However, others were also unhappy with Elder’s response:
Larry Elder just said “I do believe that Joe Biden won the election fairly and squarely.”
There’s nothing else that Elder could have said that would have so surely ended his political career than this. He’s finished.
— First Words (@unscriptedmike) August 10, 2021
There was also some push back on the Larry for Governor side, defending his statement as just “playing politics”. This is deep blue California, so he has to keep himself open to the anti-MAGA undecideds.
The iconic Catturd weighed in on that take in his/her usual insouciance:
The “Larry Elder is running in California so he needs to act like a Democrat to get elected” crowd — doesn’t know Jack crap about politics nor do they have a pulse on Conservatives in this country.
Your way of thinking is why we get Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) August 10, 2021
Catturd is not wrong, and it emphasizes what I have been saying from the beginning. Elder lacks understanding of the Recall. He is riding on the coattails of the movement, while being unwilling to engage with it.
Larry Elder said Biden won the election fair and square. He is either scared to speak truth about what happened or he is absolutely clueless, either way it's a bad thing. This is why Kevin Kiley has been my horse from day 1 . Do your homework on Kiley, he's legit.
— Unfiltered☢Boss on GAB (@hrtablaze) August 10, 2021
This part of the questioning is where it went into the weeds, which is why this particular clipped portion is what sticks in people’s minds.
Other weedy portions of the interview involved Hannah Holzer of the Sac Bee. Holzer accused Elder of anti-semitic “dog whistling” when he mentioned Sidney Blumenthal and George Soros in some of his responses. Elder was visibly ticked off, and responded well, but this dig was obviously meant to cast aspersions on Elder being endorsed by Jewish activist Dov Hikind.
Sacramento Bee opinion writer Jack Ohman tied Elder’s writing and videos at the Epoch Times to their founders being members of Falun Gong. Ohman tried several times to rope Elder into an opinion about the spiritual discipline, and whether he felt it strange that the founders of the Epoch Times would belong to it.
The Falun Gong (pronounced Fah-loon Gong) is an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline based in Buddhism. The sect has been banned by the Chinese Communist Party, and its adherents are persecuted, like the Uyghurs. With Big Tech and corporate media’s close ties to the CCP, this supposed investigative dive by the McClatchy clowns comes as no surprise; but Elder did appear very surprised. He became what I would describe as testy, then he called out the media, particularly the Los Angeles Times, for their near blackout of him and his work, despite his being a native son of Los Angeles and his successes.
It wasn’t a good look, and the writers sensed they had drawn blood, so they moved on.
Other questions related to LGBTQ, Climate Change, and power issues. Elder did say that he does believe in climate change and that humans do have some role in it. What Elder says he opposes is “climate alarmism”.
Elder discussed the water issues and the power issues of California with statistics and talking points from other advisors and sources. But, once again, he only outlined the problems and what Newsom has not done about them, without articulating how he would approach solving these problems.
Where Elder regained some ground was on the conversation about school choice. Just as when he spoke to the FreedomFest, he came off as personable, knowledgeable, and in charge of actual solutions, rather than rattling off theoretical points.
Should Elder be elected as California’s next governor, it appears he’ll have a degree of certainty and action on particular issue of our State.
The jury is still out on all the problems.