Trump's LA Campaign Team Takes on New Mission: 'Make California Great Again' - NBC Southern California
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Trump's LA Campaign Team Takes on New Mission: 'Make California Great Again'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "Make California Great Again" is a non-profit based in Los Angeles whose mission is to advocate for Donald Trump's policies in a region that voted overwhelmingly against his candidacy. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017)

    Riffing on President-elect Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" theme, his campaign team in Los Angeles has morphed into a new organization called Make California Great Again.

    "After the election, everybody asked, 'What can we do now?'" recalled Mike Simpfenderfer, who serves as the new organization's secretary. "How do we help our man be successful?"

    He envisions the new non-profit serving as an information corps that will advocate for the incoming President's policies.

    "We will EDUCATE and ACTIVATE, TRAIN and DEPLOY...to Make California Great Again -- for All," reads in part the organization's mission statement.

    Make California Great Again is operating out of donated office space in the same Long Beach building that served as Los Angeles County headquarters for the Trump campaign.

    The new outreach is being modeled after the Citizens for America program launched in the 1980's in support of Reagan Administration initiatives, said Simpfenderfer, who worked for the earlier organization.

    It's not a uniquely Republican concept. After President Obama was first elected in 2008, his campaign supporters formed a group called Organizing for America.

    Some 500 turned out for MCAGA's kickoff event on January 7, said president Rachel Gunther. "It was rocking. It was Trump rocking!"

    In the months before the election, the Long Beach office focused not on California voters, but on calling voters in other states, in all placing more than a million and a half calls, Gunther said.

    The regional realities of Election Day -- when California voters favored Hillary Clinton over Trump by nearly two to one, and in Los Angeles County, by three to one -- are not lost on Make California Great Again as it seeks to build support for Trump policies on immigration and other lightning rod issues here.

    "It is the toughest place to be an advocate for what Donald Trump stands for," Simpfenderfer acknowledged.

    His request?

    "Have an open mind. And I know that's hard to do, because he says a lot of things that get people upset."

    Funding is a work in progress, but in its first week, in social media, the organization got some 8,000 favorable responses, Gunther said.

    After the election, Trump aide Kellyanne Conway -- who will serve as counselor to the President-elect -- spoke of forming a grassroots political group to support the President's policies. However, at this point, Make California Great Again is operating on its own, without specific guidance from the incoming administration, said Gunther.

    "We're hopeful to be sanctioned and given direction by the administration," said Gunther, who will be attending the inauguration, along with Simpfender and others from the organization.

    "We're going to celebrate and have fun, and when we come back, we'll be even more energized to get the job done."

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