Tale of two different Gavin Newsom TV ads

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento in 2015. Associated Press file photo.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento in 2015. Associated Press file photo.
PolitiFact California is fact-checking claims by candidates in the 2018 governor's race.
PolitiFact California is fact-checking claims by candidates in the 2018 governor's race.

Some TV ad watchers might have been confused this weekend when they saw a Gavin Newsom for Governor advertisement.

PolitiFact California on Friday rated False a claim in the campaign’s "First" ad, which is still airing statewide, according to Newsom’s campaign spokesman.

We took issue with a statement in that 30-second spot that Newsom was "the first to take on the National Rifle Association and win." Our fact-check showed several other prominent California politicians, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, had taken on the NRA and won before Newsom.

Over the weekend, we noticed a separate TV ad by the Newsom campaign. It had similar talking points but omitted the claim Newsom was "first" to take on the NRA.

Instead, the ad says, "Gavin Newsom took on the gun lobby. And won."

We wondered: Had the Newsom campaign stopped running the ad with the False claim? Had criticism over the False statement caused them to change it?

The answer appears to be no.

Nathan Click, Newsom’s campaign spokesman, told us the campaign is airing two TV ads simultaneously. The one without the claim in question is titled "Courage for a Change," and was released on digital and on-demand platforms before the "First" advertisement.

We asked why the Newsom campaign continues to air the "First" ad with the False claim. Click referred to his earlier explanation, which we included in our fact check, that  the statement we found as False was intended to show Newsom was the "first person in California history to propose and pass a statewide ballot measure strengthening gun safety laws."

"When you’re trying to convey a series of ideas in 30 seconds, you’re limited by the format," Click added.

That explanation was rejected when we made our original ruling. It still doesn’t change the False rating.  

Here’s the full text of the "First" ad:

"The LA Times called Gavin Newsom ahead of the pack, from gay marriage to gun control. The first mayor to recognize marriage equality. The first to provide healthcare to every resident. The first to take on the National Rifle Association and win. The one candidate with a record of bold leadership and bold results. It’s why Kamala Harris, teachers, nurses and firefighters support Gavin Newsom for governor. Courage for a change."

Here’s the full text of the "Courage for a Change" ad:

Newsom footage: "Today we can confidently say is the first day in the State of California that we are providing marriage equally and fairly to everyone and denying no one their right and their opportunity to live their lives out loud."

Narrator: "It takes courage to make real change. That’s Gavin Newsom.The first to recognize the right to marry the person you love. The first to deliver health care to every citizen as a fundamental human right. Gavin Newsom took on the gun lobby. And won. And Newsom balanced seven budgets in a row… without laying off a single police officer, teacher or firefighter." Newsom: "It’s about doing what Californians have always done. Imagining the future. And building the future today."Gavin Newsom for Governor. Courage. For a change."

PolitiFact California will continue to examine claims in the governor’s campaign. Suggest a fact check at [email protected], or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. Visit our "Tracking the Truth" project to see all our fact checks in the 2018 California governor’s race.