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An interview with Gavin Newsom, Part 2



SH: Governor, now that you have got the nomination, how has your life changed?

GN: I don’t think it dramatically changed the concentration or the schedule, meaning being overwhelmed, which is the number of folks that we needed to reach out [to] after the primary. When you go from a scrum with 27 candidates and come down to two, you want to build back a cohesive framework, encourage those who opposed you to come onboard, to get those who may have been on the sidelines onboard, and begin to organize a narrative for the Democratic Party overall, since you are in essence the nominee of the Democratic Party.

SH: You had a sole police officer one time when we met at Whole Foods and you were Lieutenant Governor.

GN: Yeah. Certainly, as we discovered in our week-long bus tour, we [now] have a lot of “new friends” that are not necessarily very enthusiastic, so as a consequence, you have a few extra people around you, because there’s a few more folks with red hats.

SH: You mean MAGA hats?

GN: Make America Great! [laughs] They call me “traitor.” They’re showing up. So it requires a few more [security] folks around me.

SH: I get death threats.

GN: Oh yeah?

SH: For my blog, because of…

GN: So you get a sense of it.

SH: Where does your sense of social idealism and justice come from?

GN: My father. He was, I mean, social justice, racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice were [on the] tip of his tongue, part of the conversation, and it was also demonstrable, meaning it wasn’t just the words or the stories he shared, but it was the example: his leadership, his advocacy, and his engagement with me, despite being divorced and not raising me. All of my time with my father was spent cause-related.

SH: That’s a whole other—I feel like we could talk for an hour about your father.

GN: Yeah. But just on that, substantively, it was river trips, it was hikes, but always around some cause he was connected to. So that’s where it comes from.

SH: How’s he doing?

GN: I was literally just on the phone with my sister. He’s in the hospital again, so hard.

SH: I do wish your father well. Let’s go to the red hats. When I interviewed you last time, we had a bit of a contretemps, because you said, quote, “I wish Trump success.” This was shortly before or after the inauguration—

GN: You were so angry with me. [laughs]

SH: I was.

GN: That was sort of in the spirit of what Feinstein said.

SH: I was just going to call it Feinstein-esque.

GN: But it was also, it was a point, and I believe it. Look: I don’t wish other people ill. I wish people success. And I believe if you’re representing a country like ours, his success is our success.

SH: But your rhetoric has changed.

GN: Has it?

SH: I think it has, from reading the papers and T.V.

GN: Yeah. I don’t know that it has.

SH: You’re much more—

GN: I’ve been very consistent and constant, in terms of my critique and condemnation. But I’ve never deviated from a fundamental belief that I want to see—Look, someone who represents me and has the influence and power over the lives of so many people, not just here in the country but the rest of the world: I don’t want to see them trip on themselves. I don’t want to see them fall on their own face. I don’t want to see them fail. Because all of us suffer. I don’t want to see people suffer. I want to see someone elevate. I want to see someone meet the moment, and I wish that on everybody, including my worst enemies. I really do. I want them to change. I want them to be better.

SH: If the House reverts back to the Dems, do you favor impeachment hearings?

GN: I think we’re on that course.

SH: Do you favor it?

GN: I want to read the—look. I think obstruction of justice is pretty evident. I don’t know what more evidence you need of that, including what just happened. [He refers to Trump declassifying those intelligence documents.]

SH: With the release.

GN: There’s just more and more obstruction. I think on the collusion it’s more of a question. I do look forward to the Mueller report. But I think there’s an inevitability to it. That said, do I think it’s healthy for the nation to spend the last two years of an administration on impeachment hearings? I don’t think it was healthy for the nation during the Clinton years. I don’t know that it’s healthy for the system now. I don’t necessarily know that it will enhance our ability to work together and collaborate together, but I think it’s a necessity if indeed the Mueller report is as condemning as I think it will be, and obstruction of justice is in and of itself arguably impeachable.

SH: Do you think the House will flip?

GN: Yeah, unquestionably.

SH: And the Senate?

GN: I think that’s still open. There’s a new poll showing Cruz up nine points [over Beto O’Rourke]. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Other polls have Beto slightly up.) That’s disappointing. But that said, there’s a chance, an opportunity. Every single day, I feel more optimistic, more hopeful, more expectant that the Democrats are going to have an extraordinarily successful November. And by a significant margin beyond the 23 seats [in the House].

SH: Let’s continue on that. I was watching Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC yesterday. She had Jerry Brown on, and she asked him, and he said he does not see, quote, a viable Democratic candidate for 2020.

GN: Except in the mirror.

SH: In the mirror?

GN: Yeah. He sees it every morning in the mirror.

SH: Do you see a viable candidate for 2020?

GN: I think Jerry Brown was the antidote to Schwarzenegger. In many respects he’ll be the antidote to Trump. I think we’re gonna dust off an old sage, someone that calms the nerves, that has a real history of execution and also a quality of imagination. I think in so many ways Jerry Brown is prototypically the answer. Now is it Jerry? Is it Biden, by extension? Perhaps. I don’t think we’ll go for another novelty. I don’t think we’re gonna go for something untested, because our nerves are too frayed. I think we need to calm them. Elections are often [about] contrasts. That’s why it’s a bit of an anomaly, if I’m successful as governor, then you have a two-term Democratic governor followed by another Democratic governor. I don’t think that’s happened in at least modern history, if we are successful, and I think Brown would tell you it’s unique, because he’s unique.

SH: So is that an endorsement?

GN: I think Jerry Brown would be—I don’t think there would be a more compelling candidate for President of the United States. By the way, I don’t need to say that. I’m not paid to say that. But I do think he has a unique set of skills and a record that few people can compete with.

Monday: Newsom on Trump’s base, Kamala Harris, his own Presidential prospects, the difference between Obama and Clinton, and why he gave me this interview

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