Jenner's first major interview as a candidate will be with Fox News' Sean Hannity as she says she is in a race "to save California"

By Sean Neumann
May 04, 2021 12:53 PM
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Caitlyn Jenner released her first campaign video on Tuesday, describing herself as a "disrupter" in California's possible recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It's Jenner's first piece of campaigning since she announced late last month she was running to replace Newsom, who will likely face a recall election by the fall.

In her new ad, Jenner, 71, makes a broad promise to "restore and renew the California dream" as she asks for support for her gubernatorial bid.

But there have already been some bumps.

Over the weekend, Jenner, a Republican, gave her support for bans against transgender children competing in the sport matching their gender identity.

Her position drew backlash from others in the LGBTQ community, given her visibility as a transgender advocate, while her quiet campaign rollout has also raised some eyebrows. (Her first major interview as a candidate will be with Fox News' Sean Hannity, on Wednesday.)

The Tuesday news release from Jenner's campaign announcing her new video also misspelled her first name as "Cailyn."

The former Olympian and reality TV star announced her bid for governor in April, taking aim at current Gov. Newsom and positioning herself as an outsider in a state where conservatives do not hold much sway.

"I came here with a dream 48 years ago to be the greatest athlete in the world," Jenner says in her new ad. "Now I enter a different kind of race, arguably my most important one yet, to save California."

caitlyn jenner
Caitlyn Jenner
| Credit: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty

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Newsom, 53, is facing a recall after a Republican-led effort gathered enough signatures to force a special election later this year — allowing Californians to decide, first, whether they want to oust Newsom, and if so, who they would like to replace him.

The Democratic governor has faced much scrutiny over his leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including when he was photographed dining indoors with a large group amid stay-at-home orders and after rampant unemployment fraud.

But Newsom has defended his political decisions and said the recall is fueled by conservative anger.

Jenner reportedly hired a handful of former Donald Trump advisers to work on her campaign, though she previously split with Trump over his position on transgender issues.

Her campaign website lays out a broad anti-regulation and anti-tax platform, touting the "job creators and businesses that keep our economy moving" while urging a focus on affordable housing and, she says, a better approach to emerging from the pandemic than under Newsom.

Her campaign claims her new ad shows Californians' "devastating hardships as a result of Newsom's lockdowns."

In the video, Jenner attacks Newsom as an "elitist" whose policies she says "destroyed" the state.

"Now, we need leaders who are unafraid to lead to new heights who are unafraid to challenge and to change the status quo," Jenner says. 

Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner
| Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

A race against Newsom, for anyone, presents multiple obstacles: The recall is likely to attract several notable candidates and surveys so far show Newsom may not be as unpopular as the previously recalled governor, Gray Davis.

"I am not going to take this recall attempt lying down," Newsom said in March. "I'm going to fight because there's too much at stake in this moment."

The former Keeping Up with the Kardashians and I Am Cait star's campaign has described her as "someone that's socially liberal and fiscally conservative."

But Jenner's recent comments about child athletes who are transgender — amid legislation in other states targeting them — drew strong criticism from LGBTQ groups.

Last weekend, Jenner told TMZ: "I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school." She added that she sees it as "a question of fairness" and "it just isn't fair."

Legislators have argued that trans athletes have a physical advantage, but doctors and scientists say that is an oversimplification not supported by the facts.

In the wake of Jenner's TMZ comments, transgender rights advocates accused her of being a "traitor" and "anti-trans," while others said she flip-flopped her stance in order to draw more Republican votes.

Jenner voiced support for transgender athletes playing school sports as recently as last year. In an April 2020 interview with OutSports, she said: "I think every trans person, if they're into athletics, should have an opportunity to compete and to improve themselves."

"I think sports is such a great way to learn a lot about yourself. And yeah, I want to, hopefully they'll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do," she said then.

"I'm all for it," she said.

Jenner is one of several Republicans already in the recall race, including businessman John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Rep. Doug Ose.