That’s an easy sale on Hannity and Fox News Channel. How easy will it be in California, assuming Caitlyn Jenner follows through on a traditional campaign? In her prime-time interview with Sean Hannity, Jenner spoke in favor of a border wall as part of a comprehensive immigration-reform agreement, and pushed back against calls to “defund the police.”
Politico gives us the three-minute highlight reel, as well as an after-action report:
“I am all for the wall, I would secure the wall. We can’t have a state, we can’t have a country, without a secure wall,” Jenner told host Sean Hannity in her first major television interview since she entered the California governor’s race nearly two weeks ago.
But Jenner also appeared to support undocumented immigrants already living in the country.
“You have two questions here,” she said. “One is stopping people from coming in illegally into the state. And then the second question is, what do we do with the people that are here? We are a compassionate country, okay? We are a compassionate state.”
“I mean, some people we’re going to send back, OK, no question about that,” she added. “But I have met some of the greatest immigrants into our country.”
That “But” in the second paragraph of the excerpt carries a pretty heavy rhetorical load. There isn’t a contradiction in supporting a border wall and normalizing already-extant illegal immigrants. In fact, that’s always been the formula for a comprehensive package; the only questions are timing and validation. Border security — including an effective barrier as well as other infrastructure and services — make it easier to offer the compassion Jenner cites, as it eliminates the incentives for further illegal crossings, human trafficking, and other attendant ills these cause.
Jenner’s pro-border security extends to law enforcement in general as well:
Pressed on whether she would allow the state officials to work with ICE — presumably in deportations of undocumented immigrants — Jenner said: “I am for securing this state. I am pro-law enforcement. I am for border protection. I am pro-ICE. We need these people to to do their job.”
And let’s not overlook her pushback against the transgender community on the issue of protecting women’s sports. Or on getting asked that question repeatedly:
On the issue of transgender girls in sports, Jenner stressed that “biological boys” should not participate in girls sports. “I think we have to make sure that the integrity of girls sports is there. I think that’s extremely important,” she said.
Then Jenner, one of the country’s most visible transgender women, added: “Why do they keep asking me that question? … There’s more problems here in the state of California than that.”
Jenner even threw in some praise for Donald Trump, giving him credit for having “shook the system up.” This sounds like a good platform for a gubernatorial run in Texas, perhaps, or in Arizona, but … California? It makes sense if a candidate thinks they can win without carrying the two megalopolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco, which … doesn’t make much sense at all. For that matter, neither does campaigning on Hannity in an election with a deep-blue electorate. That’s no knock on Hannity, who gets monster ratings but whose audience doesn’t at all match up with the voters Jenner would need to win. Even in a fractured ballot in a recall race, the MAGA factor in California is negligible in statewide races.
We can probably measure Jenner’s seriousness by whatever engagement occurs next in state and local media outlets, which are almost guaranteed to be less friendly than this interview. If Jenner makes the rounds and goes on the campaign trail, we can take this bid seriously. If not, it’s going to look like a publicity stunt. Either way, though, it may not matter. With the COVID-19 numbers improving dramatically and reopening unfolding, the drive to recall Gavin Newsom might lose enough steam to where Jenner’s challenge becomes an academic footnote regardless of intent.
Here’s the full interview. Jenner does a good job, but in a very friendly environment.