GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said Thursday that the recent week he spent sleeping on the streets and looking for work in Fresno underscores the state’s continued economic struggles and the need for new leadership.
“Jerry Brown is ducking,” Kashkari said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, where he discussed a piece he wrote about the job search in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Brown “doesn’t want to talk about poverty, doesn’t want to talk unemployment, doesn’t want to talk about California schools, which are some of the worst in the country,” the former investment banker and U.S. Treasury Department official told the national audience. “I am not going to let him get away with it. I am going to use every creative tactic imaginable to drag him out of the cocoon that his father built for him to engage on these serious issues and force a conversation.”
Kashkari is an uphill fight against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who leads by a wide margin in public opinion polls and has considerably more campaign money to spend toward his reelection. Brown’s campaign spokesman Dan Newman derided the newspaper piece and accompanying video as bizarre and hypocritical.
“Puzzled: how to reconcile (Kashkari’s) bizarre media stunt with his cynical refusal to help struggling homeowners when he had the chance?” Newman said on Twitter. He also took aim at the 10-minute video posted on YouTube late Wednesday.
“And how authentic is it for a millionaire followed by a camera crew to pose as homeless before returning to his $10 million beach house?” Newman said in another post.
Kashkari, who will hold a news conference at a food bank this morning in Sacramento, said he boarded a bus to Fresno on July 21 with $40 and braved 100-degree temperatures going door to door asking for work. As his cash and prospects of finding a job dwindled, Kashkari said he was forced to check into a homeless shelter for food.
“’California Comeback!” is the favorite slogan of Gov. Jerry Brown and other Sacramento politicians cheering a temporary budget surplus provided by a roaring stock market,” he wrote in the Journal essay. “But California also has the highest poverty rate in America at 24%. Is California really back?”
“I wanted to see firsthand what that comeback looks like for many Californians.”