SAN DIEGO — When President Trump touches down here Tuesday, he will be landing in the cradle of the resistance to his presidency — and then thumbing his nose at those who oppose him.
On his first trip to California since taking office, Trump is scheduled to head down to the U.S.-Mexico border to inspect eight prototypes for his long-promised wall.
While the move is being enthusiastically welcomed by Trump’s supporters, it is expected to draw protests on both sides of the border. And it invited scorn Monday from leading Democrats here who have sought through legislation and lawsuits to fight an array of Trump policies, ranging from immigration to offshore drilling to health-care access.
“This visit is a political stunt to rally his base around a stupid boondoggle,” said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who also accused Trump of “misogyny and bigotry” and suggested his visit to the border is an attempt to distract voters from the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
While in the Golden State, Trump will also address military personnel at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar here and attend a posh Republican National Committee fundraiser in Beverly Hills. There are no plans to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown or other leading Democrats in a state that Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes.
Despite his more than year-long absence, Trump is no stranger to California, and it bears markings of his success. Trump owns a home in Beverly Hills and a golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, and he moved the staging of his reality show, “The Apprentice,” to the state after ratings started to slump in New York.
Still — as Tuesday’s visit will likely bear out — Trump’s relationships with state leaders have been openly hostile and continue to deteriorate.
“I don’t think he would be going there if the border wall prototypes were in Texas,” said Barry Bennett, a Republican consultant who advised Trump during the 2016 election. “It’s incredibly out of touch with the rest of the country. Politically, it’s not a place to waste too many seconds.”
The last time Trump was in San Diego, for a May 2016 campaign rally downtown, police in riot gear dispersed large crowds of protesters who clashed with Trump supporters. Thirty-five people were arrested.
In anticipation of what could be another unruly scene, police last week announced a “temporary restriction area” around the site of the border wall prototypes and pledged to prosecute anyone who brings in knives, bricks, baseball bats, firearms or other “implements of riot.”
Trump’s visit comes on the heels of a trip last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the Trump administration is suing California in an attempt to block its “sanctuary” laws. Among other things, the administration is targeting a provision that bars local authorities from asking about the immigration status of people during routine interactions.
At a news conference in response, Brown said it was unprecedented for an attorney general to “act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer” and angrily accused the administration of “basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy.”
Trump ramped up the rhetoric further during his weekly address on Saturday, accusing California leaders of acting “in open defiance of federal law.”
“They don’t care about crime,” Trump said. “They don’t care about death and killings. They don’t care…