'It Felt Like It Was Dictators First' On Trump's Asia Trip, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Says

Nov 14, 2017
Originally published on November 14, 2017 3:59 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti) announced at the end of October that he won’t run for governor of California next year. Garcetti is a rising star in the Democratic Party, and his announcement has fueled speculation that he may be interested in running for president in 2020.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Garcetti about his plans, the Republican tax overhaul, President Trump’s Asia trip and more.

Interview Highlights

On why he decided not to run for governor of California

“I think people always assume that politicians were just gonna run for whatever’s next. But I take seriously my job right now, and the two things I love the most in the world — my family and my city — are both here in Los Angeles. I just got sworn in on July 1, and I felt like my work is undone, and I’ve got an amazing job here in the biggest city in the biggest state in America, overseeing the biggest port that we have, the busiest airport of origination and destination, greening our utilities, building jobs, preparing for the Olympics. Why walk away from something good when you have it right there?”

On whether he’s interested in running for president in 2020

“I’ll let others speculate on that. I assure you I’m really 100 percent focused on my job here, and it’s not new that I’ve been traveling the country, although I’m doing it with new vigor because I think increasingly we have to find those solutions in other communities. I was just in South Bend, Indiana — my wife’s from Indiana, so I travel there frequently. To me it’s not flyover country it’s fly-to country, and I spent time there with five different mayors in their offices, CEOs and others, looking at solutions. Of course it matters who runs this country. But that’s not what I’m focused on, I’m not a candidate for president right now. I’m a mayor of a great city, and I want to do that work first and foremost.”


On a recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch parodying the Democratic Party

“Well, the sketch was hilarious. But, you know, there are some shades of truth and probably some shades that are completely unfair. We’ve got an amazing team of some talented people that are working out there on really important issues, infrastructure, Dianne Feinstein, my senator, has done incredible work on the environment, she’s working right now on gun control after the Las Vegas shootings, and has done amazing work like the torture report.

“But I also do think that the Democratic Party in general, I’ve said, needs to be less obsessed with itself, and more obsessed with American people. I don’t care who the leader of the party is, even though [Democratic National Committee Chair] Tom Perez is a good friend, because I think that most Americans don’t wake up asking, ‘Hey, who leads the Republican Party? Who leads the Democratic Party?’ What they wake up concerned about is their debt, or their house payments, or their education opportunities. And so I think I’ve been saying pretty consistently, we need to make sure there’s a lot of voices in this discussion. And don’t think about ourselves just as Democrats, think of ourselves as people who are leaders focused on an American agenda, rather than a Democratic agenda, and I think we’ll do well.”

On the Republican tax overhaul

“I’m troubled by the Republican tax cut. I don’t quite understand right now, when we have corporations making record profits, why we’re looking to give them further tax breaks, as well as folks at the top of the economic scale who now have more wealth than any time in the last 100 years. Tax cuts that actually go to working-class, middle-class people, I’m not opposed to. But if that’s at the cost of a soaring deficit, this is not only illogical, it’s immoral. They’re talking about doing this with $1.5 trillion in cuts of Medicaid and Medicare. That just seems wrong at a moment when we should be expanding opportunities for people. So the second thing that troubles me greatly is the loss of some of the most important deductions for the middle class, and in states like mine where we have the local and state tax deduction, to eliminate that is essentially telling donor states like mine, ‘We’re not only gonna take extra dollars from you, but on top of that, you can’t deduct that money,’ and that seems immoral.”

On President Trump’s Asia trip

“I think that President Trump’s trip to Asia was a dream for those folks who would like to replace American leadership. I think it was full of tantrums, it was full of rhetoric that sometimes sounded good. But at the end of the day, it reflected a very, very weak America. It’s not the America that I know, an America that is strong, is engaged, an America that … keeps its words to itself and lets its actions speak more loudly. It doesn’t let other countries come together in trade pacts and then another one completely be able to write us off. He talks a tough game, but I haven’t seen any actions. I just see weakness over and over again. It wasn’t ‘America First,’ it felt like it was dictators first on this trip.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.