LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the Center for American Progress’ 2017 Ideas Conference in Washington, D.C., May 16 with a warning to progressive leaders about getting caught up in opposition to President Donald Trump and forgetting to craft their own message.
“Every day we spend playing defense is a day we are not making progress,” Garcetti said. “If we are defined solely by our opposition to this administration, we will sell ourselves short, and more importantly, we will sell the American people short.”
With his comments, which were delivered as the opening keynote address of the conference, Garcetti again made it clear he is not interested in being the public face of the opposition to Trump.
Although he openly expresses opposition to Trump, particularly on immigration, since the November election Garcetti has focused on crafting a message that Democrats and Angelenos need to focus on their own beliefs and goals beyond denouncing Trump’s policies.
“Yes, we have got to fight, and we’ve got to win. But this White House isn’t going to succeed in driving us back to the past, because I know we have the Constitution and we have the American people on our side. We are going to win those fights,” Garcetti said.
He added, “Don’t fight pessimism with more pessimism, and most importantly, don’t lose faith in America.”
A “who’s who” of possible Democratic 2020 presidential candidates will be speaking at the conference, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.
According to a recent story in the New York Times, Garcetti himself can be added to the “who’s who” list of possible presidential candidates. The newspaper reported that Garcetti may consider entering the race and that unnamed “allies” of the mayor “acknowledged that national donors had broached the subject of 2020 but said that was the extent of his attention to the race.”
The Center for American Progress is a think tank that was founded by John Podesta, who ran Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Politico characterized the conference as the center’s “biggest move yet to establish itself as both the nexus of the Democratic Party’s future and a player trying to shape what that future will be.”
The website also said the center is modeling the event roughly on the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has become an annual gathering of prominent conservative leaders, and may be planning to become a liberal version of the CPAC.
“You can describe it however you want,” Garcetti said in March. “I accepted the invitation because I work with the Center for American Progress very sensibly on the environment, on immigration and on economic development and jobs programs, and I’m a huge fan of them. And I do think that it is time for us to be generating ideas for the next 20 years for this country.”
The theme of the mayor’s address ended up being closely on the topic he previewed when asked about the speech in March, as he said he is more focused on an “American” agenda than on an agenda for the Democratic Party.
“There was a frustration after the November campaign where everybody said, ‘What do you think the Democratic agenda should be?’ and quite frankly, I care less quote-unquote about the Democratic agenda than the American agenda,” Garcetti said when asked what his message at the conference might be.