Adam Schiff campaigned for the first time in Fresno, and found a receptive audience among dozens of Democratic boosters.
Speaking at party headquarters Tuesday night, the Burbank congressman talked about his campaign for U.S. Senate, told stories about life on Capitol Hill, and promised to return several times.
But a question on water — a key issue in the Central Valley — left Schiff searching of an answer.
Schiff acknowledged the importance of water, but said he needs to meet with farmers, farm workers and environmentalist before taking a position.
“I will be the first to admit that I am getting an education on water issues. And, you know, I come here on this trip, I’m coming back a lot more really on this particular issue to listen, and not to tell people in this region how I think we ought to solve the water crisis,” Schiff said.
He said that all the candidates “have the need to learn” about water.
The answer satisfied Kevin Arias-Romero of Mendota, who asked the question.
“That’s the best answer he could given. And he admitted himself that he’s still learning. So that’s good. That way he knows more of the issues and how he and his colleagues can best handle the water situation that we have here in the Central Valley,” Arias-Romero said.
In a 35-minute speech which included questions from the audience of about 70 according to a local party official, Schiff said he is campaigning for U.S. Senate on three main issues — the economy, democracy, and the planet.
The meet and greet capped a day of campaigning and meetings Schiff held in the Valley. Other stops included a tour at Fresno State, and meeting with several chamber of commerce groups.
Mayra Campa, president of the Fresno County Young Democrats — which organized the event — wants Schiff to be the first of many candidates to visit.
“It’s really great that he’s here in person, and giving us the attention. We’re going to extend that invitation to the rest of the candidates as well. But I think this is a first really great start. And he seems really willing to listen to the issues that we have in the Central Valley. I think everyone responded really well to him,” Campa said.
Why Schiff Thinks He is the Best
Schiff is one of three announced Democrats running to replace Dianne Feinstein — who announced her plans not to run for re-election in 2024. Others include congressional colleagues Katie Porter, D-Irvine and Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.
Schiff told the audience they are all progressives and “rivals under the same flag.”
In an exclusive interview with GV Wire after the speech, Schiff said why he makes the best candidate.
“I’ve got a very strong record of getting things done on behalf of the constituents here in California, bringing resources back to communities in my district. I will do the same statewide,” Schiff said.
He said that unlike “other politicians,” he will not neglect the Central Valley.
Schiff also said he’s protected democracy by leading the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, and participating in the Jan. 6 hearings.
“In each of these struggles, I played a very central role in this on leadership ability that I will bring to the Senate,” Schiff said.
Schiff also said Congress needs to help with access to health care. Madera Community Hospital closed down last month, threatening the health care needs for a rural area.
“Examining whether reimbursement rates should be increased in rural areas because of the challenge to provide service in rural communities might be a way of keeping hospitals like Madera open in the future,” Schiff said. “It’s not adequate. They can’t keep their doors open.”
Responding to McCarthy ‘Smear’
Last week while speaking to Fresno reporters, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said Schiff “lied to the American public numerous times in a position of being an intel chair.”
It was not the first time McCarthy lambasted Schiff. When he took over the gavel in the House of Representatives, McCarthy removed Schiff from the intelligence committee.
“It’s a smear, which Kevin McCarthy does all too often. The reason Kevin McCarthy required 15 (rounds of ) votes to become Speaker is, frankly, a lot of Republicans don’t trust him because he doesn’t keep his word. And we’ve seen this time and time again. It’s all one group, one thing, it’s another group, another thing or something,” Schiff said.
“So when he calls someone a liar, it’s kind of a compliment coming from him,” Schiff said.
During his speech, Schiff said he placed a billboard by McCarthy’s Bakersfield office.
“If he won’t represent them, I will,” Schiff said.
So many Californians don’t feel @KevinMcCarthyCA represents their values.
Including a lot of his own constituents in Bakersfield.
So we put up a billboard a block away from his district office, to let people know:
If he won’t represent them, I will. pic.twitter.com/q3RApKaxUG
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) February 22, 2023
Still Supports Ukraine
Schiff said he supports sending aide to Ukraine, as the country fights a war against an invading Russian army.
“We should continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. They’re fighting a Russian invader. Their fight is a fight for democracy. That is our fight, too. If Russia can be successful in remaking the map of Europe using military force, then what’s to stop China from invading Taiwan? From Turkey or Azerbaijan, from again invading and going to war with Armenia? And so I think as the beneficial of a rules-based international order, the United States has a lot at stake in supporting our ally in Ukraine,” Schiff said.