On Tuesday, Trump returns to the central San Joaquin Valley for something much more realistic in present-day California – a fundraiser.
It’s been 16 years since a Republican nominee for president actually competed for California. George W. Bush poured millions into the Golden State, and then proceeded to lose here by double-digits to Democrat Al Gore.
Since then, both major party candidates have treated California like a big ATM machine – and nothing more.
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Trump is the latest presidential candidate to come looking for cash, and not votes. He is scheduled to hold a private lunch gathering at noon Tuesday at an undisclosed Tulare County location. It follows a Monday fundraiser in the Bay Area. In Tulare, it costs $2,700 to get in the door and $25,000 for a VIP meeting.
According to organizer Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, the event likely will be the largest fundraiser in Valley history. He expects Trump to raise at least $1.25 million and possibly as much as $1.5 million. The previous record was around $1 million for Mitt Romney in 2012 at John Harris’ Sanger home. Harris is the owner of Harris Ranch.
The only issue that there is is water. That’s it.
Fresno businessman Michael Der Manouel Jr.
While attendees know Trump is here for the money – cash that likely will be funneled into campaigns in swing states such as Ohio, Florida or Pennsylvania – they also hope to hear some encouraging words from him on what seems a point of almost total unanimity: the need for water.
“The only issue that there is is water,” said Fresno businessman Michael Der Manouel Jr., who was a Trump delegate to the GOP national convention. “That’s it.”
Everyone interviewed who is attending the event only spoke of water, even though other issues of importance to the Valley are on the radar, most obviously immigration. Trump, in fact, is scheduled to make an immigration speech Wednesday in Arizona. Following the Tulare event, Trump will fly to Everett, Wash., home of a Boeing jet manufacturing plant that is the largest in the world.
Nunes on Monday traveled to the Bay Area to brief Trump on water to prepare him for Tuesday.
“He’s already been here once, so I think he has a decent handle on it,” said Nunes, who will also brief Trump on intelligence issues. Nunes is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Nunes’ office helped coordinate the event, which initially had the possibility of a public rally at the International Agri-Center in addition to the fundraiser.
He’s already been here once so I think he has a decent handle on it.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, on briefing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on water
Nunes said the luncheon will be a small event – and always was designed as such. The guess is around 250 people will attend, and of that, about 70 percent will be from the region’s agriculture community, and the remaining 30 percent are business leaders and other Republicans.
Harris, who is among the co-hosts, said he is thinking Trump “will make some comments sympathetic to letting farmers receive more water via a more balanced water policy with less damaging impacts on farmers and less regulatory restrictions on everything.”
In other words, he said, “turn on the pumps” in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Tulare County Republican Party Chairman James Henderson, a walnut grower and cattle rancher who will also attend the event, echoed the other attendees, saying “sensible solutions to bring more water to this Valley” are what he wants to hear from Trump.
“As a grower, this is super important to me,” he said. “There’s no hope at all from the other party. I wish there was, but there isn’t. We tried.”
Said Der Manouel, who is also chairman of the Lincoln Club of Fresno County: “He’s the only candidate running that the No. 1 industry in Central California can count on. Hillary (Clinton) is not interested. We are not represented in the U.S. Senate at all on water. So, (Trump’s visit) is all about water.”
Water forum Wednesday
Congressman Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, is holding a water forum Wednesday in Tulare. The public is invited to attend.
Nunes said he will share his thoughts about the consequences of the water supply in the San Joaquin Valley and will outline possible solutions.