Fire erupts at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
On Twitter, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo urged residents of the French capital to stay away while firefighters tried to control the flames.French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene of the fire early Monday evening.“Notre-Dame de Paris in flames,” Macron tweeted. “Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”Hundreds of people gathered in the streets below to watch the blaze, some in tears, others simply shouting its name.A CNN International correspondent said that blowing cinders were falling on their heads.The spire begins to fall. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images) Dramatic images posted to social media showed the roof of the medieval cathedral engulfed in flames and its spire collapsing into the church.
Paris Match@ParisMatch La flèche de #NotreDame, en flammes, s’effondre https://www.parismatch.com/Actu/Societe/Les-terribles-images-de-l-incendie-de-la-cathedrale-Notre-Dame-de-Paris-1618541#xtor=CS2-14 …Smoke could be seen billowing from miles away.Thomas Vampouille
There was some good news.
“Good news: all the works of art were saved,” reported French journalist Nicolas Delesalle. “The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments.”
The Gothic cathedral is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.
The foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, and construction of the building took more than two decades. It survived the French Revolution in the late 18th century and experienced a surge in popularity following the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in 1831.
Parisians gathered for a vigil blocks from the burning cathedral to sing hymns.
Others posted aerial images from French TV.
President Trump addressed the fire at a Monday economic roundtable in Minnesota. Trump called Notre Dame a “truly great cathedral” and said the blaze put a “damper on what we’re about to say.”
“They’re having a terrible, terrible fire. You probably saw,” Trump remarked. “But I will tell you that the fire that they are having at the Notre Dame Cathedral is something like few people have witnessed.”
He continued: “It was burning at a level you rarely see a fire burn. It’s one of the great treasures of the world. … Probably, if you think about it, it might be greater than almost any museum in the world, and it’s burning very badly. Looks like it’s burning to the ground.”
While traveling on Air Force One to the event, the president offered advice.
France’s civil security agency said “all means” except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze, per the Associated Press.
The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.
As night fell on Paris, the fire continued to burn.
— With Christopher Wilson contributing.
PARIS – The structure of the Notre Dame Cathedral has been saved from a massive fire that had threatened to gut the 800-year-old beloved landmark, fire officials said late Monday.
“The worst has been avoided, although the battle is not yet totally won,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who had rushed to the scene. Macron pledged to rebuild the church and said a national fundraising campaign would be launched Tuesday.
The blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its rectangular towers. But Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church’s main structure had been saved after firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to the northern belfry. Gallet said the emergency response had evolved into a monitoring and clean-up operation.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a tweet that historically significant artifacts and sacred items were saved from the fire.
„Thanks to the @PompiersParis, the police and the municipal agents,” Hidalgo tweeted, „the Crown of Thorns, the Tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.”
The damage to the building, however, was extensive. „Two-thirds of the roofing has been ravaged,” and firefighters would work through the night to cool down the building, Gallet said.
It was a dramatic shift from earlier in the day when officials predicted the structure would burn to the ground.
“Everything is burning. Nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot had told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Throngs of spectators watched in stunned horror from nearby buildings, bridges and street. Video footage showed fire and smoke spewing from the architectural marvel, home to priceless works of art. The flames appeared to be shooting out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral.
The fire burned for hours, virtually unabated despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters. The flames raced on as darkness fell.
„I don’t have the words for this,” said Anastasia Collas, 29, an advertising worker who watched and took video of the conflagration from the Hotel de Ville across the river from Notre Dame. „I live nearby. I want to cry. I don’t know if we’re going to lose it entirely, but this is devastating. I’m going to stay here until it ends.”
Salvage efforts had been underway to recover precious artifacts, and city prosecutors announced they were opening an investigation. Arson was ruled out as well as possible terror-related motives, officials said. Officials said the blaze could be linked to renovation work. The cathedral was in the midst of a $6.8 million renovation project.
„A special mission has been launched to try to save all works of art that can be saved,” Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy to the mayor of Paris, said on French TV.
At least one firefighter was seriously injured, officials said.
Jake Winberry, of New York, said he was heartened by strangers hugging and openly comforting each other as the blaze raged nearby, a scene that evoked memories of 9/11. „Tragedy brings people closer together,” said Winberry, who is studying abroad in Paris.
Crowds huddled across the river outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres to pray and sing hymns. Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells. The blaze comes during Holy Week, an important event for the Catholic Church with Easter six days away.
Hidalgo, the Parisian mayor, decried the „colossal damage” and said several hundred firefighters were on the scene.
„So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” President Donald Trump tweeted. „Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”
French historian Camille Pascal told French TV the fire was destroying “invaluable heritage.”
“It’s been 800 years that the cathedral watches over Paris,” Pascal said. “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame.”
The renovation project was part of an effort to save the deteriorating building. Weather and pollution have taken their toll on the stone structure.
“Pollution is the biggest culprit,” Philippe Villeneuve, architect in chief of historic monuments in France, told Time magazine in 2017. “We need to replace the ruined stones. We need to replace the joints with traditional materials. This is going to be extensive.”
Construction of the cathedral took more than 100 years to complete. The result is that, although it is predominantly French Gothic, there are areas that reflect the Renaissance and the Naturalism era of construction.
Still, the cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. The name Notre Dame means “Our Lady” in French and is frequently used in the names of Catholic Church buildings around the world.
Rosman and Hester reported from Paris. Bacon reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard in London; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Worst has been avoided’: Notre Dame Cathedral’s structure is saved; French president vows to rebuild
Republicans passed a sweeping tax cut for two-thirds of Americans in 2017, saying it would pay for itself and the American public would thank them.
Now, as Americans finish filing to the IRS for the first time under the new system, the law has swelled the deficit and surveys show just one-fifth of taxpayers believe their taxes have gone down. That’s made it hard for President Donald Trump to leverage the tax cuts as an issue in 2020, when he’s up for reelection and his party will be seeking to retake the House of Representatives.
“The Democrats really outmaneuvered the Republicans by convincing the American people that the main thrust of the tax reform package was to cut taxes for the wealthy,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor who runs the drilling services company Canary, LLC. Republicans “failed to fully explain the success to voters.”
Trump is going to try again on Monday when he goes to Minnesota, a potential swing state in the 2020 election, to promote what Republicans consider their signature legislative achievement. It’s part of a week of events designed to promote the tax law’s effects on the economy as he turns to his next campaign.
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans sold the tax law as fuel for economic growth and deficit reduction. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave assurances in December 2017 that the measure would not only contain the deficit but be a “revenue-producer.” Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said last week that the tax cut package had largely already paid for itself, a statement that conflicts with government data.
The U.S. budget shortfall grew by 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018, which the Congressional Budget Office has said was partly a consequence of the tax law. Along with additional spending that’s been signed into law, the CBO projects the deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020.
When the law passed, McConnell said, “If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.” He added that the GOP merely needed to tell the public “that you have more money in your pocket.”
But an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this month showed that just 17 percent of Americans believe their taxes have been cut. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in March found that 21 percent thought their taxes were lowered.
That’s despite an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that two out of three taxpayers would see their taxes go down. The biggest benefits, though, go to the top 1 percent, who are projected to receive an average tax break of $62,000 in 2018, while the middle one-fifth of income earners got an average tax cut of $1,090 — about $20 per biweekly paycheck.
The law appears to have met a similar political fate as President Barack Obama’s stimulus package in 2009, in which most Americans received a one-year tax break but the incremental gains in paychecks were so small that most didn’t notice.
Eberhart said the Trump administration wanted “an immediate reaction” so it reduced the amount the IRS withholds from regular paychecks starting in 2018.
The move backfired. “It was too small an amount for most to notice,” he said. Adding to voters’ frustration, their tax refunds were smaller than expected, down about 1.1 percent overall, but still noticeable to individual households.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Friday dismissed poor poll results, saying that they might be explained by general frustration with the tax system broadly. He cited other data, such as the Michigan survey of consumer sentiment, that “suggest that you should have a very optimistic outlook for economic growth this year.”
The tax law, passed by Republicans without any Democratic support, lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and cut individual taxes across income brackets for eight years. It doubled the standard deduction and enhanced the child tax credit. And it closed or tightened various tax breaks — most notably by capping the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted — which had its biggest impact on residents of high-tax, largely Democratic-run states.
Democrats spent their 2018 midterm campaigns hammering the law as a giveaway to wealthy Americans that would widen the deficit and put popular programs like Social Security and Medicare on shaky ground.
According to exit polls for House races published on Election Day 2018 by CNN, 29 percent said the new tax law helped their finances; that group overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates. But 45 percent said the law had no impact and 22 percent said it hurt their finances, and those categories overwhelmingly backed Democratic candidates.
Ryan Ellis, a conservative tax lobbyist, blamed negative news coverage for the unpopularity of the tax law. “People don’t know about their own taxes,” he said, adding that they “get half baked ideas” from the way the law is portrayed.
Republicans didn’t understand what the broader public wanted from a tax bill, said Morris Pearl, a former managing director at BlackRock Inc., who now chairs Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy individuals who advocate for higher taxes on the rich.
“They forgot that the people who show up at their $1,000-a-plate fundraisers are not representative of all people,” Pearl said. “They overreached with their tax bill and tilted the system in the favor of the very wealthy and large corporations.”
The tax effort stemmed from the bipartisan desire to move the U.S. corporate tax system in line with those of foreign competitors. Both parties supported lowering the country’s 35 percent corporate rate, though Democrats favored a more modest reduction.
Republicans realized that corporate tax cuts were a hard sell to the general public. So they reduced levies for pass-through businesses — partnerships and limited liability companies — and individuals, eliminated some existing tax breaks to offset the rate reductions and included a more generous child tax credit.
But because of earlier unpopular proposals like one to cut deductions for medical expenses, college tuition and child-adoption costs, public opinion had already soured — for good.
In many Democratic strongholds, such as New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia, the average refund amount decreased, according to H&R Block, fueling discontent with the law, even though residents in those states got a tax cut on average.
Worse, the state and local tax, or SALT, cap really stung. Residents of high-tax states, encouraged by the elected Democratic officials, came to believe they were targeted to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax cut, even if they weren’t able to personally use the deduction.
“It is clear that they consciously exacted revenge on Democratic states like New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois by capping the SALT deduction, which is bad news for residents in those states,” said Representative Tom Suozzi, a New York Democrat.
WASHINGTON – White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Sunday called congressional Democrats’ demands for copies of President Donald Trump’s tax returns „a disgusting overreach” and warned they are headed down „a dangerous road.”
„I don’t think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be,” Sanders said during an interview on „Fox News Sunday.”
„My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.”
She later specified in a tweet that „Democrats in Congress aren’t smart enough to understand the President’s tax returns.”
Trump has refused calls to release his tax returns since he announced he was running for president in 2015. His refusal has prompted some critics to insinuate that he does not want to disclose them because he has something to hide.
A number of commentators on Twitter pointed out that at least 10 members of Congress are accountants. Others observed that they also probably would hire experts to give the returns a thorough analysis.
Trump often claims he can’t share his returns because he is under audit.
„The president has been clear from the beginning, as long as his taxes are under audit, he’s not going to release them,” Sanders said.
But IRS officials say an audit would not prevent someone from making their tax returns public.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., asked the IRS to hand over six years of Trump’s tax returns, citing a law that says the Treasury Department „shall furnish” the committee with „any return or return information” upon request. Trump’s attorneys argued the release requires „legitimate legislative purpose.”
USA TODAY Editorial Board: It’s April 15. Do you know where President Trump’s tax returns are?
Opposing view: Trump should keep tax returns private
On Sunday, Sanders claimed that Congress can only ask for someone’s tax returns „for the purpose of determining policy.”
After Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Neal he would not be able to review his request in time to meet the initial deadline of April 10, Neal wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig setting a new deadline of 5 p.m. April 23.
„If you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request,” Neal said.
Neal said the law is „unambiguous and raises no complicated legal issues” and „it is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee.”
„Concerns about what the Committee may do with the tax returns and return information are baseless,” he said.
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted that Trump should go ahead and hand over his returns.
„If we are not smart enough to understand them, we will send them back. Pinky promise,” he said.
I am smart enough to understand @realDonaldTrump is gutting preexisting conditions coverage.
.@presssec Sarah Sanders tells Fox News’ Chris Wallace “frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress — particularly not this group of congressmen and women — are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.”
To my friend Rep @SeanCasten, White House @PressSec Sarah Sanders thinks we are too stupid to understand taxes. Maybe she’s right because I don’t understand why the @GOP tax law increased taxes on middle class families in my district. Can you help me understand?
I’d be happy to take that bet. Try me. https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1117457182369484801 …
Most of the top candidates in the 2020 Democratic field have released their tax returns –or have said they plan to – and have been highly critical of what they say is the president’s lack of transparency. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he will release a decade’s worth of returns Monday.
Who is running for president in 2020?: An interactive guide
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: This Congress not ‘smart enough’ to understand Trump’s tax returns, Sarah Sanders says
SAN FRANCISCO — In the fall of 2009, this city’s leader vanished.
Mayor Gavin Newsom had been hoping to ride his controversial and prescient support of gay marriage in 2004 — nine years before the Supreme Court made such unions law — all the way to the statehouse in Sacramento.
But as his polling numbers slipped and coffers ran low, Newsom suddenly realized his bid for governor against state stalwart Jerry Brown was doomed.
For days, local media and even his own staffers could not find him. Newsom finally surfaced in Hawaii, licking his wounds with his wife and child. If the disappearance seemed petulant, it also spoke to his fierce desire for the job.
“He’d been soaring higher and higher politically as a very young man, but that aborted race for governor brought him crashing back down to earth,” said Nathan Ballard, who was Newsom’s spokesman at the time and remains a close advisor.
“Now, after champing at the bit for the role a decade ago, he’s tempered by age and wisdom and he’s not going to waste this opportunity,” he said.
Nearly 100 days into his tenure as the state’s 40th governor, Newsom, 51, has already brought his signature sermonizing style to the state’s highest office.
„The choices we make will shape our future for decades,” he told lawmakers during his State of the State speech on Feb. 12. „This goes deeper than budget numbers or program details. This is about the bonds between us as human beings.”
Newsom hasn’t been shy about backing up such words with actions. His most recent: Traveling to El Salvador in early April to investigate the roots of the current immigration crisis.
Central American fact-finding mission: California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets Salvadorans who tried to reach US
In a mere few months, Newsom has taken enough bold stances to frustrate Republicans and cheer fellow Democrats. There’s also an unmistakable signal to national party leaders — thanks to Newsom’s photogenic looks, monied connections and youthful demeanor — that a 2024 presidential run could well be in the offing.
“Governors of California have always been potential candidates for president, so part of what he’ll try to do now is build a legacy to run on,” said Jack Citrin, a longtime observer of state politics and professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. “Newsom wants to do dramatic things, and it certainly seems like he’s starting off in that direction.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor herself, applauds Newsom’s fast start, telling USA TODAY that he has identified „some of California’s biggest priorities including wildfire prevention and recovery and homelessness. We’ve already met once in Washington since he took office and we have a strong relationship.”
One of those big priorities was his decision last month to use his power as governor to suspend executions of death row inmates, a move that had critics baying that the governor was ignoring the people’s will as expressed in recent votes against getting rid of the death penalty.
But there’s more. Newsom sued the city of Huntington Beach for failing to move forward with affordable housing measures, warning dozens of other local governments during his State of the State speech that the state would not tolerate attempts to skirt responsibility in helping solve a mounting housing crisis. City leaders countersued saying the overreaching move was unconstitutional.
Newsom also dove headfirst into the state’s expensive and often-derided high-speed rail project, immediately scaling back the vision to a singular run not on the coast but rather in the state’s arid Central Valley. That battle is far from over, as some Democrats lament the curtailed nature of the green-tech transportation vision while Republicans argue the entire project should be scrapped as impractical.
Early polls show clear divisions
USA TODAY asked Newsom’s office for its view on the first 100 days. A long memo followed outlining a dozen varied initiatives that speak to the governor’s aggressive start.
Some highlights: On health care, Newsom signed an executive order giving the state more bargaining power with pharmaceutical companies; on education, he has proposed funding universal preschool; on immigration, he allocated $5 million to an emergency shelter in San Diego; on climate change, he preemptively declared a state of emergency in 200 communities likely to be susceptible to wildfires this year.
The memo also called out the formation of a new strike force to reimagine the state’s broken and much maligned Department of Motor Vehicles, and the diversity of Newsom’s appointments, which includes a staff that is 70% women.
Tackling California’s less sunny side: California prison sued by inmates after maggots, mice fall into dining hall
Polls suggest that so far the new governor is pleasing many voters in a state that has always carried significant political and cultural sway over the rest of the nation. Helping out is the fact that California has taken a blue turn of late largely in reaction to Trump administration policies that have been antagonistic to the state, whether on issues of border security and immigration, or because of federal threats of withholding funds for wildfire disaster relief.
During the last midterms, Democrats unseated Republicans in many traditionally red regions of the state, notably in the south, and gave Newsom a supermajority in the Legislature to go along with a budget surplus left behind by Brown’s two terms that is predicted to hit $15 billion this year.
“Generally speaking, Newsom’s first 100 days have been successful in terms of connecting the dots between issues most voters care about and the things he’s indicated will be his priorities, ranging from fire prevention to the homeless,” said Mark Baldassare, CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan research institution.
The Institute’s recent poll indicates Newsom has a 45% approval rating among the state’s adults and likely voters, while 26% disapprove. There are deep divisions among party lines, with 65% of Democrats polled approving of Newsom’s early moves while 65% of Republicans disapprove.
Echoing that divide, a poll from Reform California, a political action committee out of San Diego, indicates that while the same percentage (39%) favored and disapproved of his actions so far, 52% opposed his stand against the death penalty, and 54% opposed his decision to carry on with high-speed rail.
‘Ignoring the will of the voters’
“One thing to remember is Newsom is operating at a time when things generally are very polarized in this country, and in this state, so it will be interesting to see what happens,” said Baldassare.
Perhaps predictably, interviews with lawmakers and stakeholders on both sides of the political aisle reveal fundamentally different views of the way Newsom is handing the reins of state.
“The governor’s first three months is full of mixed messages and overreach when it comes to ignoring the will of the voters on things like the death penalty, and I would hope he changes course because California deserves better,” said Vince Fong, a state assemblyman from the Central Valley who is a leading voice in the state’s Republican caucus.
“If Newsom says he wants to be bipartisan, I haven’t seen it,” added Fong. “There’s no monopoly on good ideas, and we Republicans have good proposals for building more roads, affordable housing and lowering taxes.”
Preparing for a coming wildfire season: California’s secret wildfire weapon: Goats, sheep chew through flammable grass, brush
Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer with Dhillon Law Group in San Francisco and the National Committeewoman of the Republican National Committee, is even more blunt. “When Gavin was mayor, he was a big business candidate,” she said. “Now he’s more left.”
She calls Newsom’s fight with Huntington Beach “woke posturing” that flies in the face of a raging homelessness problem in San Francisco that she lays at the former mayor’s feet.
Specifically, she charges that Newsom is beginning to cater to the progressive side of the Democratic party as exemplified by presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and firebrand freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“To make your way up through the machine of San Francisco politics, you actually have to be relatively moderate compared to an AOC or Bernie,” said Dhillon. “But once you arrive, you can pivot left and go off the rails.”
Not bold enough for progressives
Some progressives, however, aren’t sure Newsom is swinging left enough.
“We’re looking for the governor to ban fracking outright and move us to renewable energy resources, and we need to see more out of his office on student debt and homelessness,” said Bill Honigman, California state coordinator for the Progressive Democrats of America, a group founded in 2004 to sway a centrist Democratic agenda.
Honigman, a retired emergency room physician, said Newsom also has to make good on his campaign promise to create a single-payer health care system in the state.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get a piece of legislation for single-payer in Sacramento this session. He should be leading the way on this, so that’s a minus point in his column,” Honigman said.
But Newsom’s supporters feel confident these first 100 days is merely a taste of the ground-breaking politics that will come out of the state in the coming four years.
“Gavin has launched with a vision, and it is a reflection of a governor who’s going to be aggressive and forward leaning,” says Xavier Becerra, the state’s attorney general. “He’s acting on his values.”
Becerra’s office has so far nearly 50 lawsuits out against the Trump administration, legal actions that are helping Newsom sharpen a position that stands in defiance of many White House policies.
Becerra also is on point for the state’s various data privacy initiatives that include a data dividend, a revolutionary though still-vague call by Newsom for tech companies to pay users for the private information they capture online.
“Newsom understands he has a moment in history leading the fifth largest economy in the world, and my sense is he’s going to strike,” said Becerra. “The death penalty. High speed rail. Wildfires. He understands he’s here to help with all of that, and I hope he continues on this path.”
Gene Gantt, executive director of the California State Firefighters Association, a trade organization representing career and volunteer firefighters, said Newsom’s decision to spend his first day in office with first responders to announce a five-year, $1 billion forest management plan sent the right signal.
“We want to upgrade communications, get new firefighting technology, upgrade the 911 system in parts of the state, and the governor seems wide open to listening to our concerns,” said Gantt. “It helps that there is money now, which with past Legislatures we had to fight for.”
State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said Newsom “is doing what he has always done, taking bold positions that sometimes are ahead of public opinion, much like he was way ahead on gay marriage. That’s what leadership is about.”
Wiener added “in California we’re willing to try new approaches to things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but we like our leaders to have national profiles and get out there and lead.”
The job is ‘in his bones’
Few people know Newsom better than Ballard, his longtime friend and advisor, who currently runs The Press Shop communications firm.
Newsom, in Ballard’s view, was a precocious political neophyte who quickly was tapped for greatness by San Francisco mayor-turned-kingmaker, Willie Brown. Backed by Brown and powerful, wealthy friends such as the Getty family, Newsom became mayor at the age of 36. In that role, he learned the sobering lessons of governing.
„You have to make the hard decisions,” Ballard said over a coffee not far from Newsom’s former home in Marin County just over the Golden Gate Bridge. „He never pulled cops off the streets, and he always delivered a balanced budget.”
Then came the national spotlight ignited by the debate over gay marriage, one in which California voters turned against Newsom by voting in 2008 for Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, an initiative later ruled unconstitutional.
In being ahead of the social curve on gay marriage — „Something that is likely to be the first line in his obituary,” said Ballard with a laugh — Newsom thought the governorship was his in 2009.
But Brown, a former governor and a steadying hand that ultimately helped deliver the state from a deep financial crisis, was what voters wanted.
Soon after his Hawaiian funk, Newsom learned that the largely ceremonial post of lieutenant governor was his for the taking, and he took it. What followed were eight years riding shotgun to Brown and time spent largely raising his four children with his documentary filmmaker wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Newsom was waiting, and then he pounced, spending much of 2018 criss-crossing a divided state talking about a „California dream” that he said still united all residents of the Golden State.
Today, Ballard describes his friend-turned-governor as a man driven by a sense of destiny.
“He’s not going to waste the platform,” Ballard said. “The end goal for him is to be a great governor of California for two terms. He has wanted this job in his bones, and the biggest setback of his professional life was when he had to withdraw in 2009. It was truly awful, I was there.”
Now, Ballard said, Newsom sees only an open field with plenty of room to run.
“Gavin has come out of the gate sprinting at an exhausting pace,” he said. “But it’s what I expected. He’s got a carpe diem attitude, one that says he has a limited time on this earth, and he’s going to do all he can with that time.”
Follow USA TODAY national correspondent @marcodellacava
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Trump battles California, Gov. Newsom makes big changes in first 100 days