SAN DIEGO – After 14 months of avoiding the country’s most populous state, the president on Tuesday landed in California where he visited the US-Mexico border near San Diego and worked to raise campaign cash at a high-dollar fundraiser in Beverly Hills, near where he owns a home.
The last sitting president to go this long without traveling to California was Franklin Roosevelt and he took a train.
Trump lost the state by a wide margin in the 2016 presidential election and remains deeply unpopular there.
The president didn’t try to warm relations while on the ground in California.
Shortly after landing, Trump told reporters that California Gov. Jerry Brown has “done a very poor job running California,” slamming the Democrat for immigration and tax policy.
Standing on the US-Mexico border, Trump said he thought Brown was a “nice guy” but “has not done the job.”
Trump’s criticism focused on tax policy, too, with the president mentioning owning property in California.
“The taxes are way, way out of whack, and people are going to start to move pretty soon,” he said.
Trump previously lambasted California in recent weeks, threatening to withdraw federal law enforcement agents and suing the state over its immigration rules.
This weekend, he focused his weekly radio address on criticizing the state’s stance toward undocumented immigrants.
“Every state in our Union is subject to the laws and Constitution of the United States — including California. Yet California’s leaders are in open defiance of federal law,” Trump said. “They don’t care about crime. They don’t care about death and killings. They don’t care about robberies. They don’t care about the kind of things that you and I care about.”
Indeed, Trump’s maiden presidential visit to California is largely focused on the immigration matter.
“Congress must fund a border wall and prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country, and the people of our country. We must enforce our laws and protect our people,” President Donald Trump said.
Pres. Trump viewed wall prototypes and said some of them have “see-through capability” and a larger section that may deter climbing over the top.
He’ll also address US military personnel stationed near the border and attend the fundraiser in Los Angeles.
His visit is only expected to last one night.
Unlike other presidents, Trump won’t hold events to highlight the American entertainment or technology industries centered in California — two of the country’s most profitable and visible exports that help drive the state’s economy, which is the world’s sixth largest.
In an open letter to Trump on Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, invited Trump to visit a high-speed rail line in the Central Valley, which he called the “heart of California.”
“In California, we are focusing on bridges, not walls,” Brown wrote. “And that’s more than just a figure of speech.”
Speaking on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump still enjoyed support in California, despite losing there to his opponent Hillary Clinton by four million votes.
“While California may not have — he may not have won that state, there is certainly a lot of support for this President, not just there but across the country,” she said. “And he looks forward to being there and presenting a lot of the specific policies.”