Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday that while he’s hesitant to react to every “uninformed and ill-informed tweet from the president,” he’s concerned that Republican Donald Trump’s hardline policies on immigration could harm his city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
Trump’s travel ban, his plans to construct a southern border wall and his new administration’s moves to punish immigrant-friendly “sanctuary cities” like Los Angeles, which shield people in the U.S. illegally, has put up added hurdles in the United States’ effort to win the games over competing Paris and Budapest, Villaraigosa said.
“We all have to be concerned about that with this new executive directive focused on Muslims from seven different counties, with this talk of a wall, with (Trump) moving away from trade with Asia and Latin America,” Villaraigosa, a candidate for governor in 2018, said in a brief interview at the Sutter Club in Sacramento, where he was giving the keynote address to the California Latino Economic Institute.
Villaraigosa, who as mayor in 2013 wrote to the U.S. Olympic Committee about L.A.’s interest in bidding to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympic Games, said he spoke Tuesday with Casey Wasserman, chairman of LA 2024, suggesting “he’s done an incredible job making the case for Los Angeles. It would be great for L.A. But it would be great for the state and the nation, as well,” Villaraigosa said.
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The U.S. Olympic Committee has issued a statement saying it was working with the government to ensure foreign athletes could travel to the U.S. to compete.
“This could have a real impact on us,” Villaraigosa said. “But if anybody can successfully make the case to the rest of the world – notwithstanding the Trump administration and policies – that L.A. is the right place at the right time to have these Olympics, it’s Casey Wasserman.”
Villaraigosa, who joined the governor’s race within days of Trump’s November election, also weighed in on the shifting candidate field that already includes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, all Democrats.
Asked if Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist and Democratic mega-donor, should run, Villaraigosa sounded an encouraging note. Both Newsom and Steyer are from San Francisco and would draw from the same pool of Northern California supporters.
“I have a lot of respect for Tom Steyer,” Villaraigosa said. “This is a talented field of competitors in this race, and he certainly would, I think, add to the field in terms of being a quality person.”
What about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who amid efforts to secure the Olympic Games is widely expected to cruse to reelection in the city’s March 7 primary? Garcetti is also rumored to be eying the governor’s race, and has not ruled out the idea.
“Do I think he’ll be in the race? Villaraigosa asked. “No, I don’t. I take him at his word. He said he’s running for mayor and has no interest.”