With $40, a bus ticket from L.A. to Fresno, a backpack, and a sleeping bag, California's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Neel Kashkari, kicked off a week of job-searching while homeless. Sort of.
"This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life," Kashkari said. "I came to Fresno expecting to be able to find a job and take care of myself but it's been a week and I found nothing. I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food."
He really did sleep on park benches (and even got hassled by cops and private security), but one has to wonder how much his job inquiries were affected by the fact that he was mic'd and had a cameraman in tow.
Either way, Kashkari concludes, "The solution is simple — it's jobs. It's not more welfare. It's not more food stamps. It's jobs. And we know how to do this." He's skeptical of how much California's economy is actually recovering under Gov. Jerry Brown, and there's merit to that. California ranks 44 in the U.S. for unemployment, about 9 million people, or 24 percent of the state, live in poverty, and some in the state are pushing for even higher taxes on the already-tax-heavy state.
Although he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability under both Bush and Obama, Kashkari's got limited name recognition and an "R" next to his name that isn't making it easy winning over the golden state. Polls show that throughout June and July he's steadily held onto about 33 percent support compared to incumbent Brown's 55 percent. Notably, Kashkari campaign is fueled by pretty modest budget: he's spent about $4 million and has less than $200,000 in the bank, compared to Brown's $22 million.
The former investment banker isn't the first person to make a politically-motivated dive into blue-collar blues this week. Yesterday I noted how ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) "tried" (and predictably failed) to live on the minimum wage. That was a gimmick and so is this. Kashkari's gimmick is a bit more creative and interesting, though, and it might just have the viral power to boost this multimillionaire's image in California, and may help magnetize donors nationally.
Here's the video:
Hat tip: Jim Swift