(CNN)Caitlyn Jenner is attempting to defy ideological definition as she runs to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s all-but-certain recall election, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that she didn’t vote for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election — and, in fact, didn’t bother to vote at all.
“I didn’t even vote,” Jenner told Bash in a wide-ranging interview at her home in Malibu. “Out here in California, it’s like, why vote for a Republican president? It’s just not going to work. I mean, it’s overwhelming.”
“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,” she said. “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. And I just wound up going to play golf and I said, ‘I’m not doing that.’ “
Jenner told Bash she is “kind of on the Republican side” but doesn’t like “labels.” Defending her lack of government experience, she said she was prepared to take on the role of managing a state that has the fifth largest economy in the world, in part by surrounding herself “with some really good people.”
“I have been in the entrepreneurial world. People think — you’ve been in show business, think of you as a reality star. Certainly, I’ve done that, but entertainment is a business, and you have to run that business,” Jenner told Bash when asked what kind of training she had to be governor of California. “But I’ve also done other things. We sold a billion dollars’ worth of exercise equipment on television. I’ve had aviation companies. I’ve just always been involved being an entrepreneur and tried to inspire my children to do the same thing. And they’ve done very well in that department.”
Those life experiences, she argued, have helped develop her leadership skills. In an interview where she argued that Californians are overtaxed and overburdened by regulation, Jenner noted that she has been meeting with “budget people,” but would not say whom because she didn’t “want to expose anybody.”
The former Olympian is one of several prominent Republicans challenging Newsom in the likely election, which has not been officially called or scheduled because of the complex bureaucratic process to get it on the ballot. But because of her lack of experience in politics, Jenner’s policy positions are unknown to many California voters — other than her advocacy for the rights of transgender people and her past support for Trump, which she rescinded in 2018 because she believed his administration enforced policies that were harmful to transgender people.
At the same time, Jenner is clearly cognizant that Trump’s base could serve as a wellspring of political donations in a state that requires tens of millions of dollars to compete. With that in mind, Jenner is attempting to create some distance from Trump’s rhetoric and policy positions — as well as his claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent — without alienating the voters who supported him. Her attempt to find a palatable middle ground on issues like homelessness, the environment and immigration is also a calculated political strategy in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
While Trump continues to spread falsehoods about the 2020 election, Jenner told Bash that she does not believe the election was “stolen,” but argued there needs to be “integrity” in the US election system.
“He is our President. I respect that,” Jenner said of President Joe Biden in the interview when asked whether Biden was “duly elected.” “I realize there’s a lot of frustration over that election. You know what? I’m frustrated over what happened back then.”
She did not go into specifics about why she was frustrated by the election, which has created deep divisions in the Republican Party. Though she
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