Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 25, 2012
VIDEO: Callista Gingrich names issues she'd tout as first lady

What sort of issues would Callista Gingrich champion as first lady?

The wife of GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said today that she counts promoting cancer research, music education and the teaching of American history in schools as causes close to her heart.

Here's a brief video of Gingrich, who introduced her husband before his speech to California Republican Party convention attendees, describing her interests after her husband's address. Newt Gingrich did not stop or respond to questions from the media after the luncheon.

February 25, 2012
Herman Cain: 'stupid people' are behind Obama job approval rating

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain thinks he knows what's behind President Barack Obama's 45 percent job approval ratings nationally.

"That's where the stupid people are," the former Godfather's Pizza CEO told a packed room during a luncheon at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Cain, who dropped out of the race in December after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, urged attendees to stay involved and inspired in politics as they work to maintain control of the House of Representatives, win the U.S. Senate majority and "alter the occupant of the White House."

"Know your facts. Stupid people are ruining America," he said, reviving a line he has used often on the campaign trail and in public appearances.

Cain was welcomed with cheers and a standing ovation as he appeared at the convention to voice support for presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the guest speaker for the luncheon. He praised the former House Speaker's "bold leadership" and said he is the best person to revive a sluggish economy.

"We have a message for Barack Obama. We have a message for a broken Washington DC," he said. "We the people are coming. We want our power back and it's going to be led by Speaker Newt Gingrich in 2012."  

February 25, 2012
Gingrich hits Obama on energy policy, gas prices at GOP confab

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich assailed President Barack Obama on gas prices and energy policies as he sought to fuel support among California Republicans today.

"If you want $10-a-gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary and weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate," the former House Speaker told a crowd during a luncheon at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Energy and gas prices have become a hot issue on the campaign trail amid rising prices at the pump. The average price of gas -- now at $3.58 a gallon -- has increased by 25 cents since the start of the New Year. Gas at a 76 station down the street from the convention site started at $4.49 a gallon.

Gingrich, who rolled out a pledge to drop gas prices to $2.50 a gallon earlier this week, spent much of the appearance responding to a speech on energy Obama delivered at the University of Miami earlier this week. The Democratic president dismissed calls to focus on expanding drilling, saying the country "can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Instead, Obama said his administration is pursuing an "all-of-the-above strategy" on energy that includes solar, wind, gas and oil power.

Gingrich quoted extensively from the president's Friday speech and previous statements related to energy policy. He criticized the speech as "factually false, intellectually incoherent, deeply conflicting in policy and in some places, just strange."

Gingrich touted his energy policy, which includes upping  domestic oil production and greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline XL project, as a way to reduce reliance on foreign energy sources and lower the cost of fuel for Americans. He said his proposals will cut back on regulations and lead to more economic growth. 

He did not directly call on California to expand drilling off its coast, but said he thinks "each state has to make its own decision." He added, however, that under his proposal to give states 50 percent of the royalties from the arrangement "Sacramento would start thinking seriously" about the issue.

Absent from the speech were mentions of his opponents, who are campaigning elsewhere this weekend ahead of Tuesday contests in Arizona and Michigan. Gingrich, who has suffered losses in recent primary contests and slipped to 12 percent support in a Field Poll of California voters released this week, said he came to the state GOP convention to demonstrate his commitment to building a national campaign. He said he does not believe any candidate will have a "lockdown" on the nomination by the time California Republicans go to the polls June 5.

February 25, 2012
Senate GOP leader: caucus unlikely to fund redistricting referendum

Don't expect members of the Senate Republican Caucus to write big checks to back the referendum of the district lines they fought to qualify for the ballot.

Senate GOP leader Bob Huff said today that the caucus probably won't finance the November campaign asking voters to reject the maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.

"We have seats to defend. That's a higher priority," the Diamond Bar Republican said.

Senate Republicans, who are expected to lose seats under the new maps, were the major force behind the effort to qualify the referendum, which was certified for the ballot yesterday. The caucus and the state GOP had poured millions into qualifying the measure in hopes that the state Supreme Court would rule that new maps should be drawn in time for 2012 if the effort was headed towards the ballot.

But with the Supreme Court's ruling that the current districts should be used for this year's elections, questions have emerged about whether anyone will step up to fund the measure in the November election. California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro would not commit to providing money to the campaign during a Friday press conference to open the state party convention in Burlingame.

"What we're going to do is look at our resources, look at the issues in front of us, like the spending cap, and over the next six months, we are going to decide on exactly how far we should push each individual thing we're facing," he said.

February 25, 2012
Jerry Brown plans trip to China to court investors

WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown, who in recent weeks has become increasingly interested in luring Chinese investment to California, said today that he will lead a delegation to China, likely this year.

"I think we've got to get moving on this," the Democratic governor told reporters at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Brown announced last week, while meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Los Angeles, that the state would open privately-financed foreign trade offices in China. California's taxpayer-funded offices there and in other countries were closed amid controversy in 2003, with critics questioning their effectiveness and cost.

Brown said he hopes to convince Chinese investors to invest in California projects instead of Treasury bills. He said China is a country of staggering wealth and that, from California's perspective, "it's a source of investment, direct investment."

Brown said Mike Rossi, an adviser, is handling the formation of a group of private interests in California to collaborate with their counterparts in China. Brown dined yesterday with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui and discussed China privately with officials at the State Department.

"This is going to be an important mission," Brown said.

Brown has rarely left the state since taking office last year and has not left the country on official business this term.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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