Caitlyn Jenner wants Californians to get vaccinated, but is against mandates

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Caitlyn Jenner kicked off a monthlong campaign tour Thursday in her bid to become California's next governor, starting by meeting with residents and touring the homeless encampments in Venice.

The former Olympian and reality TV personality sidestepped questions about whether she had lined up any lucrative book or TV deals connected to the September recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

"I've never worked so hard for nothing in my life," Jenner told reporters in Los Angeles' Venice Beach neighborhood, after being asked about inking any money-making side ventures. She then steered around a second question about possible deals.

But later in the afternoon, her campaign issued a statement saying "she has not pursued any money-making ventures in connection with the campaign."

Asked why she didn't respond when asked about possible side deals in the works, the campaign said, "It's not a question she was expecting."

In her first run for office, Jenner has been shadowed by doubts about her intentions and whether she might be running a vanity campaign linked to advancing her entertainment career. She has no background in managing a vast government like California, by itself the world's fifth-largest economy.

Those questions were fanned by the disclosure that she ducked out of the country after announcing her campaign to film a reality TV program "Celebrity Big Brother" in Australia.

In reference to her recent trip, Jenner told Eyewitness News: "Every candidate who is challenging Gavin Newsom has a job. I have a job... I made that job commitment way before running for governor."

Her comments come as Newsom is also set to hit the campaign trail Friday for four days of events across the state urging Californians to vote "no" on the recall.

Newsom supports vaccine mandates, a stark contrast to the top Republicans running to replace him. Those candidates oppose mandates for state workers, teachers and showing proof of vaccination to enter public places.

"We have to follow the science. I mean... I don't like the pressure that I'm seeing (being put) on people that they have to get vaccinated, even to travel, this and that," said Jenner, who added: "The science is all over the place. It's not just one set of sciences. With the CDC, there are many other opinions on that and honestly you have to look at that, but you also have to give people personal freedom to do what they feel best for them."

When asked about the spread of the delta variant and her plans to combat that as more children return to school, she replied: "I would encourage people to get vaccinated if they think that's the right thing to do."

On Republican frontrunner Larry Elder, Jenner said he's too far right and the state needs an inclusive Republican like her.

Jenner was supposed to launch a bus tour across the state, but is instead flying to different campaign events.

Meanwhile Thursday, Newsom got a lift from President Joe Biden, who issued a statement urging Californians to oppose the Sept. 14 recall. Newsom "knows how to get the job done because he's been doing it," Biden said of his fellow Democrat. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the former California senator, are expected to take active roles in the campaign.



In South Los Angeles on Thursday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on the recall.

"What is the purpose of the recall except skullduggery. But again, the system allows for it so we have to defeat it. From the free lunch program in schools to preserving the planet, it has to be defeated," said Pelosi.

Since the last governor's race in 2018, voter registration has increased 13.9%. Over 22 million Californians are registered to vote, which is 88.9% of eligible voters.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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