California Gov. Gavin Newsom was vacationing in Montana, where he has family, on July 4 when his reelection campaign ran a 30-second spot on Fox News in Florida in which he called out Florida for "banning books, restricting speech, making it harder to vote, criminalizing women and doctors."
Newsom then invited Floridians to "join us in California, where we still believe in freedom."
Newsom certainly feels free to do what he wants to do.
Montana is one of 22 states banned from state-funded travel because of what the state Attorney General Rob Bonta calls "an ongoing wave of discriminatory anti-trans legislation sweeping across the country."
"We're putting our money where are values are," Bonta explained when he added states to the no-travel list.
Newsom is putting his money where his values are, too — one standard for him, another for the masses.
It's the French Laundry all over again — when Newsom was seen dining with lobbyist friends maskless and without social distancing even as his office was urging Californians to scale down Thanksgiving dinners and telling locals, "Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend? Don't forget to keep your mask on in between bites."
Freedom of religion? Not high on Newsom's list. He banned indoor worship, ostensibly to curb COVID, even as the entertainment industry and retailers were open for business. (The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the order.)
There is no book ban. Florida has rejected textbooks bubbling with progressive sensibilities.
"I don't think they're banning books. They're making decisions about which books they think are best for their students," California education blogger Joanne Jacobs told me.
Florida is leery of math textbooks heavy on "emotional-social learning," she noted, an approach she doesn't think is "very helpful for kids."
Oddly for a state that is supposed to make it "harder to vote," Florida enjoyed a higher turnout — 71.7% to California's 68.5% — during the 2020 general election.
Yes, Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 2% of abortions performed in Florida in 2019 were performed after 15 weeks.
A 2014 report by the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute reported that only seven of 59 countries allowed elective abortions after 20 weeks. The Washington Post fact checker found the Lozier report "a factoid" that "surprisingly turns out to be true."
Facing a recall in 2021, Newsom had to divert voter attention away from rising crime rates, sprawling homeless encampments and public school closures attributable to light-on-crime lunacy and the education establishment's disfunction. He beat the effort by turning the focus on top challenger Larry Elder's support for former President Donald Trump.
Newsom's reelection in November is inevitable. While the Democrat denies any interest in running for president in 2024, who believes that? No one who knows the Golden State's Golden Boy.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are underwater job approval-wise. Newsom probably figures he'd be doing the party a favor by jumping in.
Newsom's Florida ad buy sets up a contest with DeSantis, many Republicans' favorite alternative to Trump. Smart.
Still, it's a pipe dream to think Americans would prefer California, which is losing people, to the Sunshine State, which has been gaining residents.
Sacramento declared economic war on 22 states. Newsom may want to make the issue a contest between him and DeSantis, but really, it's also a war on Montana.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow with Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. She has worked for more than 30 years covering politics on the ground and in Washington, D.C., as well as American culture, the news media, the criminal justice system and dubious trends in public schools and prestigious universities. As a White House correspondent and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Saunders followed then President Donald Trump from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, covered campaign rallies and the advent of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and was an active questioner in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. She also covered the early weeks of the Biden administration. Read Debra J. Saunders' Reports — More Here.