WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump arrived in California on Tuesday after a tumultuous morning in which he fired his secretary of state to personally confront the state's resistance over his signature issue, a southern border wall, and related immigration crackdowns.
Trump's first visit to the nation's most populous state is to be brief -- just one day -- but long on symbolism. He plans to spend about an hour inspecting border wall prototypes built at his direction in San Diego, then speak at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and travel to a fundraiser in Beverly Hills that is expected to raise $5 million for the Republican National Committee.
Immigrant, labor and LGBTQ rights activists are planning to protest while Democratic lawmakers are competing to raise their own profiles by denouncing him loudest. Many Republican candidates are staying away, given Trump's low popularity in the state.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a front-runner in the governor's race, released an online animated video Tuesday morning caricaturing the president and castigating his immigration policies. One image shows Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan reimagined as "Make America White Again."
"It's official: Donald Trump finally worked up the nerve to visit California, bringing his fear-of-everything agenda with him," Newsom says in a voiceover. "Let's get real. Donald Trump's border wall is a monument to idiocy. A 1,900-mile waste of taxpayer money that -- news flash -- is impossible to complete."
The political action committee for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is considering a run for president, is running ads coinciding with Trump's arrival. In a fundraising email, Garcetti wrote, "There's one thing you need to know: California Republicans and Donald Trump are like peas in a pod."
No president has waited so long to visit California since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came by train in an era when jet travel was not routine. Trump will leave California on Wednesday for events in St. Louis before returning home.
Trump used to boast that he could become the first GOP presidential candidate to win the state in nearly three decades, but wound up losing to Hillary Clinton by 4.3 million votes, leading to a loss in the popular vote that Trump often laments. In California, just 22 percent of voters approved of the job Trump was doing as president in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll in November; 66 percent disapproved.
"We welcomed all the presidents that have come before him to this great state, but what we will not welcome are seeds of division and hate. What we will not welcome is racism," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
In a state so large, that still leaves millions of people eager to see the president clash with Democrats who control all the levers of power. Many of Trump's supporters in other states also view California as a foil, given its liberal power base, strict environmental regulations and permissive attitude toward immigration.