Days after receiving the endorsement of President Donald Trump, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox brushed aside the notion that it might hurt his chances with California voters, who broadly disapprove of the president.
"I'm not the same kind of person," Cox, a San Diego businessman, said Wednesday at a "Republican unity" event organized by his campaign, adding, "I'm honored to have the president's support."
Cox, who has fought with conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach for the shrinking Republican slice of the California electorate, is locked in a tight battle for second place in the governor's race.
Trump's endorsement last week offered a message to GOP faithful to consolidate behind the candidate that the party believes has the best chance of advancing past the June primary. California Republican officials have fretted over the possibility of being shut out of the top two by the large field of Democrats, hurting their chances of holding onto vulnerable House seats in November.
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But a recent public poll found that two-thirds of Californians, including 91 percent of Democrat, are dissatisfied with Trump's job performance. That could present a challenge for Cox trying to appeal more broadly to voters in a general election.
"I think they like his results. I think they like a growing economy," Cox said. "I think some people have an issue with the president's style. I think that's what some of that is all about. But people have different styles and different ways of speaking. I think the president talks plain. I like that. I'm going to talk plainly to the people of this state and I'm going to get results for people."
Cox offered his own spin Wednesday on Trump's drain-the-swamp mantra, promising to "clean out the barn in Sacramento."
"I'll tell you what, the Democrats have been shoveling a lot of, uh, shall we say, manure on the people of this state," he said, pointing to the gas tax increase and the "sanctuary state" law, two of his favorite campaign topics, which were both passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature last year.
He urged Republicans to support his campaign so that voters are not left with a runoff between leading Democrats, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who he suggested are nearly identical.
"The people of this state deserve a choice between different candidates," Cox said. "They don't want Tweedledee and Tweedleedum. They want a true choice."