Late Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced that the leader of the Golden State would, the following day, “participate in a fireside chat at the 2021 California Economic Summit sponsored by California Forward.” The appearance’s ostensible aim is “highlighting the state’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic and work to rebuild a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economy for communities across the state.” But the announcement comes amid chatter about the governor’s absence from the public eye of late.
Newsom said late last month that he would be in Scotland November 1-3 for the U.N. Climate Change Conference. It’s a topic the governor is passionate about, and he sees his state as a world leader in addressing the crisis after he banned the sale of gas-powered cars in the region by 2035. The event would also have provided the ambitious Newsom with worldwide exposure and an opportunity to rub elbows with international leaders.
But three days before he was due to leave, Newsom’s office announced he would no longer make the trip.
“Due to family obligations, Governor Newsom will no longer be traveling to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and will instead be participating virtually, focusing on California’s landmark climate change policies,” spokeswoman Erin Mellon wrote in a statement obtained by the Sacramento Bee.
Newsom, once ubiquitous during the early going of the pandemic with his daily press conferences carried by multiple networks, was strangely quiet as the state’s Covid test positivity rate has nearly doubled in the past 10 days. The conspiracy-minded pointed out that Newsom publicly received his Covid-19 booster shot at his last public event on October 27 and wondered if the governor had a reaction to the dose.
Newsom spokesman Daniel Lopez told The Bee that the governor was working with lawmakers at the state capitol last week, and that his relatively low public profile was not due to the vaccine (he had no reaction to the shot, according to Lopez). Vogue also reported that Newsom attended a Getty family wedding over the weekend.
Shortly thereafter, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom posted a combative message to haters on Twitter.
“It’s funny how certain folks can’t handle truth,” Siebel Newsom wrote. “When someone cancels something, maybe they’re just in the office working; maybe in their free time they’re at home with their family, at their kids’ sports matches, or dining out with their wife. Please stop hating and get a life.”
Her tweet was removed, but Sac Bee reporter Saphia Bollag captured a photo of it.
Gavin Newsom’s office has refused to say what “family obligations” caused him to cancel his trip to the big UN climate change conference in Scotland. Seems like that’s what his wife, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is referencing here https://t.co/8aH4RBSOnQ
— Sophia Bollag (@SophiaBollag) November 8, 2021
Now Newsom has announced he will reappear tomorrow, no doubt to questions about his whereabouts in the past two weeks, his wife’s tweet and the nature of the family matters — which may or may not be the public’s business — that kept him away from the spotlight.