California governor to rebut Trump in 1st State of State
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California governor to rebut Trump in 1st State of State

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is preparing to deliver his first State of the State address a day after declaring he wouldn’t participate in the Trump administration’s “political theatre” over border security.

The Democratic governor is likely to ratchet up his rhetoric against President Donald Trump in Tuesday’s address, a month into Newsom’s governorship.

“We’ve been sucked into this vortex of the absurd,” Newsom told reporters Monday. “I want to get out of it — that’s what I was elected to do.”

His address will offer yet another opportunity for Newsom to outline his vision for California, a state dominated by Democrats, and contrast it with stalemates in Washington.

Newsom, 51, has sparred repeatedly with Trump and excerpts of his speech indicate he’ll rebut pieces of the State of the Union address delivered by Trump.

“Last week, we heard (Trump) stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values,” the excerpts read. “He described a country where inequality didn’t seem to be a problem, where climate change doesn’t exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families at the border, seeking asylum from violence-stricken countries.”

Newsom announced Monday he’ll withdraw most of California’s 360 National Guard troops working with the federal government at the Mexico border.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to deploy troops at the Trump administration’s request last year, although he said they couldn’t participate in immigration enforcement.

Newsom, though, said there’s been a “grey area” in the troops duties that may have allowed some to inadvertently participate in immigration activities, although a Guard official said the state’s troops have not helped detain anyone.

Newsom disputed Trump’s claim there is a crisis on the border and any need for National Guard troops was eliminated when Trump chose earlier this month to add 3,750 more U.S. troops at the border.

“I don’t know what the right adjective is without coming off as hyperbolic; the whole thing is ridiculous,” Newsom said.

Newsom does want to leave 100 California troops working with the federal government to focus on combating transnational drug and gun smuggling.

But his speech will surely go beyond immigration to other disagreements with the White House as well as his own ambitious policy goals for the state.

He’s also fought with Trump on money for wildfire prevention efforts and the ban on transgender Americans in the U.S. military. One of his first policy announcements was to reinstate the individual mandate that people buy health insurance, which Republicans in Congress have eliminated.

Newsom has laid out his vision for California twice already, in his inaugural address and through his first crack at the state budget. He spent his first month in office travelling to different parts of the state promoting his ideas on housing, juvenile justice and the environment.

“This is our answer to the White House: No more division, xenophobia or nativism,” the excerpts say. “We’re more united than ever, and we’re not going back.”

Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press