Video: California Gubernatorial Candidate Asserts His Republican-ness

Neel Kashkari ran the federal bank bailout, which was deeply unpopular and became a liability for many congressional Republicans.
by McClatchy News | February 20, 2014 AT 4:45 PM

By McClatchy News

Neel Kashkari was wrapping up his call to a talk radio program in Los Angeles when, having aired his views on the state budget, drought and high-speed rail, the Republican candidate for governor was reminded of a fundamental difficulty in the race ahead.

“Love to get you in studio for a longer-form thing, because I know that you’re going to be attacked,” KABC’s Bryan Suits told the former U.S. Treasury Department official. “Because people are going to say you were (former Treasury Secretary) Hank Paulson’s Goldman Sachs, you know, lickspittle and the whole thing.”

Kashkari, 40, knew when he started laying the groundwork for his campaign last year that his time running the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program could be problematic. The program, which Kashkari managed in the final year of President George W. Bush’s second term and at the start of the Obama administration, was deeply unpopular and became a liability for many congressional Republicans whose constituents viewed it as a handout.

Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs executive, did more than support the program; he executed it. Now, in the earliest stages of his campaign for governor, he is embracing the bailout, seeking not only to sell himself to voters, but also the merits of TARP.

“The program that I ran, we spent, we deployed $422 billion from the American people, and we stabilized the economy,” Kashkari said when he announced his candidacy last month in Sacramento. “And I’m really proud to say to you today we got every single dollar back.”

Kashkari’s remarks are supported by Treasury Department estimates of the government’s return on TARP investments. But he is seeking to demonstrate far more from his record managing the program. Running against a third-term governor and a state assemblyman, Kashkari has no other government experience to claim.

"I spent three years in Washington, D.C., battling the worst economic crisis that our nation has faced literally since the Great Depression, and that experience taught me two things that I think are directly relevant to fixing California," Kashkari said. "No. 1, although it doesn't happen often, it is possible to get Republicans and Democrats to work together to tackle a major crisis. And No. 2, you don't break the back of a crisis with small policies. You break the back of a crisis with overwhelming force."

The candidate has been releasing weekly videos on YouTube to re-introduce himself as a gubernatorial candidate, including this one in which he boosts his credibility as a Republican.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee