California's two gubernatorial candidates speak in San Francisco

California's two gubernatorial candidates spoke before a crowd of about 1,000 at a fundraiser for the Willie Brown Institute in San Francisco.

Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox each had 15 minutes to speak. They did not appear on stage together and this was not a debate. But that didn't stop the two candidates from making verbal jabs at their opponents.

“My opponent is a walking-talking special interest,” Cox said.

Cox  did not mention his opponent by name during his speech. Instead, he focused on criticizing California under Newsom’s leadership as lieutenant governor.

“I've had many people tell me that they've given up the dream of being able to buy their own home, let alone being able to afford their own rent and that’s a major component of the homeless situation,” Cox said.

For Cox, connecting with the crowd in liberal San Francisco was an uphill battle.

The Willie Brown Breakfast is a gathering of hundreds of San Francisco’s business leaders, politicians, attorneys and power players.

There was head-shaking and even some boos, when Cox criticized high speed rail  and the gas tax. 

“The first thing we’re going to do is repeal the gas tax,” Cox said.

For Newsom, a Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, this was a sympathetic crowd. He touted the state’s economic growth and received a standing applause, when he said, “We are, proudly, the most un-Trump state in America.” 

Cox, while answering questions after the event, wanted to keep the focus away from national politics and president Trump, who has endorsed him. When asked if he thought the president was wrong to end birthright citizenship he responded:  “I would not use executive orders. The president is the president of the United States. I am running for governor to make this state affordable. That’s not a dodge.” 

Newsom not stick around to answer questions outside the event.

The latest poll released from the Public Policy Institute of California five days ago shows Newsom with an 11-point lead over Cox with 49 percent of likely voters saying they plan to vote for him. But one out of every ten voters said they are still undecided.