Caitlyn Jenner Says She Didn't Vote for Donald Trump and Went Golfing on Election Day

"In California, it's like, why vote for a Republican president?" Jenner told CNN's Dana Bash — but now, Jenner said, she feels the state needs her help

Before Caitlyn Jenner launched a campaign for governor of California last month, she hadn't been all that politically active.

In fact, she said in a new interview, she didn't see the point in voting as a California conservative in the most recent presidential race.

But now she feels the state needs her help.

Speaking to CNN's Dana Bash in an interview that aired Tuesday morning, Jenner said she didn't cast a ballot for former President Donald Trump in 2020, despite her Republican background and despite having turned to some of his former officials to help with her own campaign.

"I didn't even vote ... Out here in California, it's like, why vote for a Republican president? It's just not gonna work. I mean, it's overwhelming," Jenner, 71, said.

She continued: "It was voting day and I thought, 'The only thing out here in California that I worry about, which affects people, is the propositions that were out there,' and I didn't see any propositions that I really had one side or the other. And so, it was Election Day and I just couldn't get excited about it. I just wanted to play golf so I said, 'I'm not doing that.' "

Asked why she expected people to be excited for her own campaign, Jenner joked, "'Cause I'm cute and adorable."

Speaking with Bash, Jenner acknowledged that some of Trump's own staffers now worked for her — but said that the overlap had nothing to do with her support, or lack thereof, for the former president.

"I've never even talked to Trump about any of this stuff. We're in that post-Trump era. I am very fortunate. I know people in the Republican Party ... honestly some of the best people in the Republican Party have jumped on board to help me with this program," Jenner said.

She added that who her campaign staff had worked for before was of no concern to her, provided they were skilled at their jobs.

"It makes no difference," she said. "They work politics, you know, and that's what they do. If Ted Cruz had gotten elected and Trump didn't, they would have probably worked for Ted Cruz."

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Caitlyn Jenner. MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Jenner, who is running as a Republican, has made an effort to downplay her partisanship. That's largely because, as she noted to Bash, conservatives have little sway in California, where Trump remains widely unpopular.

The Olympic gold medalist-turned-reality TV star has split with Trump in the past on LGBTQ rights, though her views on the former president have shifted over the years.

Jenner spoke during the 2016 Republican National Convention, saying then that Trump would be "very good for women's issues," and she later attended his 2017 inauguration.

By 2018, she had renounced her support for Trump, writing in a Washington Post op-ed that she was "wrong" to think he would work on behalf of transgender people like herself.

"[Trump] has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to 'protect the country,' " she wrote. "This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me."

More recently, her comments supporting restrictions on transgender athletes in schools — a push led by Republicans — drew backlash from others in the LGBTQ community.

Jenner announced last month that she is running for governor. "I'm in!" the former Keeping Up with the Kardashians star said in a statement.

"Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision," she said, taking aim at the state's current leader, Democrat Gov. Newsom, who has been under increased criticism amid the COVID-19 pandemic and now faces a recall election.

Jenner said in her statement that "for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people."

Nonetheless, polls so far have shown a recall of Newsom will be an uphill battle for his challengers.

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Caitlyn Jenner. Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty

Though Jenner has no political experience, she touted her "great ability to listen" to people in her conversation with Bash, saying she would work across the aisle if elected. She has pitched herself as a "disruptor" and outsider.

She's also described herself as more moderate than some other Republicans, when it comes to immigration. She has said she supports the southern border wall but also backs a citizenship process for people who entered the country illegally.

"I've been on the Republican side just because of conservative economic principals — lower taxes, less regulation, the list goes on ... But also on the other side, I've much been more like the Democrats," Jenner told Bash on Tuesday. "I realize that there are social issues that are out there that people need help, and government can play a role in that."

She also told Bash that she wanted to directly confront what she said was an overwhelming "exit of California — people are leaving it in droves." She tied that to her own anti-regulation, anti-tax platform.

"They're leaving for one reason and that's [the] overbearing, over-regulated, over-taxed system that we have in this state. People don't want to leave. Honestly, that's why I'm doing this. I don't want to leave California. But if I have to, I will. It just makes financial sense," she said.

Asked directly what she would do to ensure people don't leave the state if she was elected governor, Jenner said she would work to limit taxes and regulations: "No more regulations, no more taxes, everybody take a big, deep breath, and let's see what we can do."

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