The governor of California made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks on Tuesday, after days of growing speculation over his decision to abruptly cancel a trip to the Cop26 and largely withdraw from public view.
Gavin Newsom said he chose to take his kids for Halloween rather than travel to Scotland to discuss the climate crisis with world leaders, explaining his decision was driven by the simple desire of a working parent to spend more time with their children. .
Newsom’s comments, delivered at an economic summit in Monterey on Tuesday, came after increased media coverage and criticism from Republicans about his plight and what he was doing. His last public event was on October 27 when he received a booster shot against the coronavirus. Two days later, his office released a brief statement saying it was canceling travel plans for unspecified “family obligations”.
His staff did not respond to questions about where he was or what he was doing for much of that time, prompting criticism from Tories who spread rumors that Newsom was suffering from ‘harsh side effects after her booster shot and rallied on social media around the hashtag #wheresgavin.
Photos posted this weekend in Vogue showed Newsom attending the lavish wedding of Ivy Love Getty, the granddaughter of the late billionaire oil mogul J Paul Getty, whose family members have been major donors to the campaign. Newsom.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Newsom’s wife, added to the intrigue on Sunday night with a deleted tweet since telling people to “stop hating and having a life.”
But on Tuesday, Newsom said his absence was nothing more than a chance to rejuvenate with his family after three frantic years in power that included an unprecedented pandemic, record-breaking destruction from wildfires, a drought and fight for his political life in just the second Recall Election for Governor in state history. Newsom pushed back the recall in September and then spent the following weeks reviewing hundreds of bills passed by the legislature.
Newsom, who regularly makes several public appearances each week, relishes his role as the country’s most populous head of state, which, if it were his own country, would have the world’s fifth-largest economy, making his absence after the sudden withdrawal from the climate conference. so unusual.
And the climate crisis is all about signing for the governor, who many say aspires to one day run for president. Attending the conference would have given him the opportunity to tout his climate change initiatives, which include banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035, and raise his profile with world leaders. But as the trip approached, his children took the initiative, he said.
“I’ve been on that damn treadmill, we’ve gone from crisis to crisis,” Newsom said. “The kids, literally, kind of had an intervention. They said they couldn’t believe I was going to miss Halloween.
Newsom said that for her children, ages 5 to 12, missing Halloween is worse than missing Christmas. ” I had no choice ; I had to cancel this trip, ”he said. Newsom’s comments earned public applause and praise from fellow Democrats in the state legislature, many of whom blamed the governor’s political opponents and the media for twisting history.
Assembly member Ash Kalra tweeted that if Newsom had attended the conference he would have been criticized “for traveling abroad instead of staying at home to attend the state”.
“He just can’t win,” Kalra said.
Wesley Hussey, professor of political science at Sacramento State University, said Newsom could have avoided much of the fuss if he had simply said early on why he wouldn’t attend the conference and took hindsight from public appearances.
“I think this is an example where the governor and his press operations have to be aware of social media and the distortions and always be in the face of the story,” he said. “I think we should know what the governor is doing and give him space when he needs time to spend with family. And I think these can go together.
Neither the governor nor his officials explained why they had not provided details on Newsom’s fate until this week. On Monday, Newsom’s office said the governor was working on Capitol Hill on “pressing issues, including Covid-19 vaccines for children, recalls, ports, the upcoming state budget and the continued economic recovery of California ”.
When it released on Tuesday, Newsom added details of its week out of the spotlight. He went to his children’s soccer tournament and offered them a treat, having quickly found a pirate costume to join them. He said he took his kids to the Capitol last week, participating in tourist traditions for the first time, like taking a selfie with the statue of a grizzly bear – the animal that appears on the state flag – in front of the office of the governor.
The children also received coloring books which are regularly distributed by the Office of the Interim Speaker of the Senate.
“It was probably the most productive week I have had since taking office,” Newsom said.