STOCKTON -- Downtown Stockton may seem like an unlikely campaign stop for the candidate polls show is leading the race for California governor.
In the last leg of a statewide bus tour for Democrat Gavin Newsom, he stepped off with a smile. His wife, Jen, was not far behind.
Both were there to meet a former Bay Area couple who own a custom furniture shop. They wanted to learn more about their craft and why the couple now calls Stockton home.
The city’s Mayor Michael Tubbs was also on hand to showcase the success story and officially endorse the current Lieutenant Governor to be the state's next governor.
"Cool things happen in Stockton. I tried to tell you," Tubbs told Newsom.
"You don’t need to try to tell me, I hear you," Newsom responded. "I know it, I know it."
Despite some of the side effects of running for office, it’s a life Newsom says he knew he wanted at a young age. He points to the father of a former first lady of California as one of his heroes.
"I was inspired by Sgt. Shriver back in the '60s. That sense of idealism," Newsom said. "The willingness to step up, step in, stand up for ideals, strike out against injustice. That was a big part of my early childhood and what was sort of represented in my family. The sense of obligation, service, it’s been a big cause in my life."
Newsom began his political career in San Francisco, where he served as mayor. It is a job he says will help him solve problems as governor while not letting politics get in the way.
"When you come from local government you’re in the 'how' business," Newsom said.
From lack of affordable housing to the high cost of education and homelessness, Newsom says he’s aware of the challenges he’ll face if elected. He even calls out his own party.
"So much of that has happened on our watch," Newsom said. "We own that and we must own a response to that, it’s scale. We need to be held to account to address those issues in a meaningful way."
Addressing poverty is one of his top campaign platforms. He says the only way to fix it is to make sure children are not left behind.
"If you’re not preparing our kids at an early age, pre-preschool, early head start, not just head start, then we are not going to systematically address the achievement gap, which is to me a readiness gap," Newsom said.
Newsom is also a leading figure in resisting the Trump administration, making his stance known on social media.
"I certainly will respond to any assault and attack, and the fact is almost every day there is an attack on California and California values," Newsom said.
But despite the opposition, Newsom says he’s open to working with President Trump on things like infrastructure and disaster relief and response.
"When Trump extends an open hand, not a closed fist, then we’ll accept that," Newsom said.
"I don’t want to continue to be in this frame, this sort of festering frame of opposition," Newsom said. "But I will not be timid in standing firm and tall, and have the backs of the people of this state if they’re threatened by Trump and Trumpism."
He hopes a forceful but measured approach is what voters are looking for.