Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the front-runner in the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, said Thursday that he wouldn't have complied with the Trump administration's request to send California National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Brown on Wednesday agreed to deploy 400 National Guard soldiers stateside, saying he'd focus on drug smuggling, human trafficking and other organized crime – not on immigration enforcement.
Asked Thursday by The Sacramento Bee editorial board whether he'd be sending troops the border, Newsom said plainly, "No."
He said he'd prefer that President Donald Trump beef up the ranks of border patrol agents and enlist the National Guard to deal with domestic issues like natural disasters. Trump has previously called for hiring of thousands of additional border patrol agents.
Trump should "work with ... the union that's trained to address border security and is paid," Newsom said. "I would prefer to push that agenda, but no one seems to even have discussed that in our national debate around this issue, and (I) would have asserted perhaps that would have been a better priority."
"I'd rather see our National Guard troops used to deal with fire prevention, earthquake preparedness and organizing around floods," he said.
Newsom held back, however, on directly criticizing Brown. He said he gives the governor "enormous credit for his thoughtfulness," and for seeking answers on timing and funding before announcing a decision.
"Not many governors do that," Newsom said.