By Chris Stone and Ken Stone
Updated at 10 a.m. May 28, 2018
Chula Vista native Travis Allen, the Trumpiest of California’s candidates for governor, had an answer Sunday for those wondering why the president had endorsed his GOP rival, whom he called “Lyin’ John Cox from Chicago.”
“Donald Trump listened to [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy and the rest of the swamp-dwellers in Washington, D.C., who care nothing about the governor’s seat,” Allen told Times of San Diego.
A woman in a black MAGA hat held a handmade sign saying: “EVEN THE ALMIGHTY TRUMP GETS IT WRONG SOMETIMES. VOTE TRAVIS ALLEN.”
Employing Donald Trump stylings — name-calling his rival, denigrating the media, and using pet phrases like “Build That Wall” — Allen revved up 120 people in a dusty lot across the border from Tijuana International Airport.
Many wore flag-themed outfits and displayed signs such as “MS-13 meet AR-15.”
In an hourlong talk that focused on immigration, the Huntington Beach assemblyman trailing Cox in recent polls said: “All of California is friendly to the president. Let’s be very clear: The mainstream media and the polling got it entirely wrong in 2016, and continues to get it wrong today.”
Allen, a 44-year-old Republican, urged his fans to take pictures and “tweet it to Donald Trump and say THIS is the candidate that the people want in California.”
Nine days after Trump tweeted his endorsement of Cox, Allen and his backers offered theories on how the Rancho Santa Fe businessman won the White House nod.
Allen said all the national GOP cares about is advancing any Republican in the top two — “even if that Republican loses horribly. Just like they lost in 2014. Just like they lost in 2010.”
The assumption is that if Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and fellow Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa make it to the November runoff, Republican voters will stay at home out of dismay for having no GOP option in the state’s top race.
Allen agrees with the theory that Newsom’s TV ads featuring “conservative businessman” Cox are meant to boost the Republican into the second spot.
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“Gavin Newsom is absolutely trying to support John Cox,” Allen said before his pep-rally style remarks. “Newsom wants to face the weakest possible opponent. Look, John Cox is a failed politician from Chicago. … Gavin Newsom knows that if John Cox was to advance, which he won’t, … he could go to sleep (and find himself) governor of California.”
Allen supporters like Marilyn Okita of San Marcos said the Trump pick “kind of threw people for a loop.”
“But it quickly came out that the day before he did that, Kevin McCarthy went in and talked to Trump and Kevin McCarthy is known as the most endeared RINO in D.C.,” she said.
Okita said Trump’s mind is on North Korea, Iran, immigration and “everything else going on — not on California. So most of us just kind of see it as ‘Oh well, he doesn’t know what’s going on.'”
She added: “Just because he said it, we don’t worship Trump.”
A “really convincing” internal poll done by Californians for Trump after the Cox endorsement showed Allen’s support almost absolute, she said.
“They have the largest database of volunteers from the Trump campaign,” she said. “So they took a poll, and 97 percent of them said they still stand with Travis Allen.”
- Listen: Travis Allen interview and remarks at border rally
- Listen: Travis Allen remarks at border rally (part 2)
- Listen: Travis Allen remarks at border rally (part 3)
Kurt Gohagan, who traveled from Ventura, said the Cox nod “really hurt…. Everyone wants Travis Allen, so I think he’ll still get the vote even without Trump’s endorsement. California has pushed back against Trump on everything, so he really didn’t pay too much attention.”
Brett Gregory laughed when recalling his reaction to hearing Trump tap Cox.
“Oh man, I could not believe he did that,” he said. “I was boggled. What? That’s the only thing I have to say [Trump] did wrong. Everything else he’s done right. He’s kept his word. He’s been the greatest president since Reagan.”
“[Trump] was listening to Newt Gingrich. Maybe he was convinced. I mean Travis Allen is really the true conservative,” said the Riverside resident who says it costs him $100 a week to fill his tank with gas.
Roy Vines, also of Riverside, said Trump followers would make up their own minds.
“We don’t have to have anybody tell us what to do,” he said. “The president has his own reasons for backing Cox. … He was probably making his decision off of other people — what they thought. … He reads something and he’s making a decision off that.”
Vines was clear-eyed on Allen’s chances of pulling off an upset.
“It’s going to be a little bit of an uphill battle, but he’s saying the right things. And his agenda is what we’re looking for,” he said. “Cox … would probably say anything just to get the [vote].”
Eric, the MS-13 sign-holder, wouldn’t give his last name (“You make a lot of enemies when you do this kind of thing, so I’m not going to make it any easier for them.”)
But he said he’s from Kern County and went to boot camp in San Diego.
His reaction to Cox winning Trump favor?
“It’s hard to say what kind of politics are being played, what kind of information he’s getting 3,000 miles away over in D.C.,” he said before the rally.
Warming up the crowd was a guitar-and-box-percussion duo, with one man wearing a Los Angeles Fire Department T-shirt. They performed a faithful rendition of “Get Together,” the 1967 hit by the Youngbloods. (“C’mon people now,/ smile on your brother/ Ev’rybody get together, try to love one another right now.”)
Eric was “very” optimistic about Allen’s chances.
“It’s the jungle primary system,” he noted. “So if Gavin Newsom and Villaraigosa tear Cox apart and vice versa, then Travis can still come in and win it.”
For his part, Allen used a fast-patter approach to tearing apart Cox and the “corrupt Democrats” in Sacramento.
Highlights from his talk:
On Mexico: As a South Bay teen, Allen said, he went to Mexico so many times “I can’t even count. I love Mexico. It’s a phenomenal place. It’s got great people. It’s got great surfing. It’s got great food. … We’re very fortunate to have such a great neighbor to the south. We could have one of these Middle Eastern countries, where they want to try to kill us, right?”“Build That Wall,” the crowd chanted.
On sanctuary state: Allen said state Attorney General Xavier Bacerra “must be arrested and he must be prosecuted,” along with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who he accused of allowing “800 criminals who are committing crimes” to “roam free” as undocumented immigrants.
“She is now guilty of over 800 counts of aiding and abetting felons,” he said, guilty of spousal abuse and robbery, for example.
On election fraud: Alleging that undocumented residents can register to vote via the DMV (when they get a driver’s license), Allen suggested checking records of every person registered to vote in the past three years, and compare that against a database of U.S. citizens and California residents.
“We will have the truth in 20 minutes.”
He added: “When Travis Allen is your next governor of California, we will have voter ID!”
Allen said Mexicans get separate ID cards for voting in that country.
“If they could do it in Mexico, is it racist? No. I’m just sayin. We will clean up this election fraud, and I’ll tell you … we’re not stopping there,” he said. “We will recall Xavier Bacerra, Libby Schaaf. We will send them where they belong — to jail. Lock them up!”
On Texas luring California employers: “Gov. Travis Allen is going to Texas and I’m bringing [jobs] back. By the way, just last week I was in Texas. They love that message. They say we can’t wait for you to come back and take all the Californians out of Texas.”
On the death penalty: He said “Chicago John Cox” would not have executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. And Cox “loves Charles Manson” for having let him die in prison of natural causes.
“That is a crime to every single victim,” Allen said. “I have news for that Golden State Killer: You’re going one place, buddy, and it ain’t to jail. You’re outta here!”
Allen said he would “clean out” the 700 felons on Death Row “that are costing you $75 million every year. It’s not just about the money, ladies and gentlemen, it is about justice.”
On the California State Water Project, which he supports: “We will store your water, and we will have green lawns. We’re going to take long showers and we will flood the Central Valley.”
Allen concluded his rally with a call for donations, instructing his volunteers to hand out envelopes.
“Inside that envelope goes your cash, goes your credit card, goes your checks,” he said. “Every single donation gets a Travis Allen T-shirt. … I will sign every shirt today.”
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