BURLINGAME — Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari dismissed questions Saturday about resistance to his candidacy from the party's most conservative activists, saying scheduling conflicts kept him from addressing a group of conservatives here.
"The Republican Party has a lot of folks inside the tent," he said. "I want to make it a bigger tent, so even more people are welcome. And I've really been pleased how I've been received by a very diverse group of Republican groups here at the convention and around the state."
Kashkari, a moderate Republican, is in a primary election race against Tim Donnelly, the tea party favorite. Kashkari was well received Saturday at meetings of young Republicans, Latinos and the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans.
Yet Kashkari is not universally popular at a convention where Republican activists sang "God Bless America" and marched through the hotel Saturday chanting "Taxed Enough Already."
"This is a place that Kashkari doesn't understand," said Mike Spence, president of the Conservative Republicans of California.
He objected to Kashkari's record running the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and to his vote for Barack Obama in 2008.
Kashkari told reporters he has been doing "a lot of conservative talk radio in the last couple months" and has been "really pleasantly surprised how well they've embraced me."
He said, "You know what Republicans want? They want their kids to get a good education, and they want a good job. That's the same thing that independents want. That's the same thing that Democrats want. I think we can unite Republicans and unite Californians around these messages."
Donnelly faces his own challenges within the party ranks, with many moderate Republicans viewing the strident conservative as a liability to the party's efforts to attract new voters.
PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari speaks to reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders