From student debt to health care, California voters sound off on issues that matter to them

For this installment in our series, Three Meals, we traveled to California — long an afterthought in choosing nominees in the presidential race. In 2020, however, California's primary moves to Super Tuesday in early March, which will give the state a much bigger say in the contest.


Despite being the largest blue state in the country and the fact that some call it the home base of the so-called resistance to President Trump — Californians actually have varying views on a wide range of issues, from the environment to health care to the mess in Washington.

Orange County, California, is home to sun, sand, and now, swing voters. The most competitive congressional races in the country were held in California last year, reports CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe. So if you're looking for a place to find people who might be swayed by Democrats or Republicans, this is about as good as it gets. 

For breakfast, you can't do much better than Cappy's Cafe on the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. It's where we broke bacon with sisters Peyton and Sofia Mollett and their friend, Taylor Mozart. As they're all college students, it's perhaps no surprise what's on their minds.

"I'm taking this year off so that I can pay off the loans I've taken out," Peyton told O'Keefe.
 
When candidates debate, one issue grabs their attention: forgiving student debt.
 
"Realistically… I really don't have a lot of trust that that's gonna happen," Peyton said.
 
While Taylor, a conservative, gives President Trump credit for creating jobs, she wishes his party would do more to protect the environment.
 
"What a lot of people don't want to admit, especially the conservative party, is when they admit that climate change is a problem, it becomes their problem to solve," Taylor said. "I think it's a really important issue to think about as, like, young people. 'Cause this is our world, this is our generation. We're gonna grow up in it."
 
Next, we headed north into Los Angeles County. It's essentially deep blue. Bell, California, in east Los Angeles, used to be predominantly white; now it's overwhelmingly Latino and immigrant populations.
 
For the past two decades, this community has come to La Casita Mexicana for lunch, and so did we. Friends Ubaldo Lira and Richard Rosales don't hold back when asked about Mr. Trump.
 
"It's like a novela, practically. You know how Latinos, we watch, or my mom, they watch novelas? It's practically the same thing. It's a novela at the White House," Ubaldo said.
 
They're ready for a new chapter in the novela, but which Democratic candidate they pick depends on the issue of health care. Richard said he got his appendix removed on Sunday.
 
"I have insurance. I had to pay $20. But it made me think, like… my mom doesn't have health insurance, he doesn't have health insurance. It's like if they had to go get their appendix removed by an emergency, it's like $50,000," Richard said, adding, "That's something I feel should just be natural. You should be naturally born with health insurance."
  
From the beaches and the city, we went rural into the bread basket of California: the Bakersfield area. It's the most Republican congressional district in the most Democratic state in the country.

After a full day of driving, there's no better place to fill up your tank than Hodel's Country Dining, a Bakersfield institution for more than 50 years. Here we got another group's take on what's happening in Washington:
 
"I have taken issue with how the president is not respected. The position of president is not respected anymore," Connie Penner said. "Nothing is ever going to be OK or accepted in the eyes of the opposing party."
 
Connie's family has farmed around here for three generations, but now she faces tough decisions.
 
"We just closed escrow on selling my dad's farmland," she said. "The worry of where we were gonna get our water from, the trade wars and the tariffs, and... the unpredictability of that just is too much stress."
 
"If you could tell the president and whoever he ends up running against one thing about how to handle the next year, what would it be?" O'Keefe asked.
 
"Stop running against each other and start talking about the issues that are important," Robert Stout said. "All you hear is them b****in' about each other. Stop it, and start talking about how it's gonna change, what they're gonna do for us. … Stop squabbling at each other."
  
One thing we asked all of the diners was their opinion of the impeachment saga. Almost to a person, Republicans, Independents and Democrats all told us they're not quite sure where it's headed, but were more interested in other issues that impact their everyday lives. The folks in Bakersfield even said they think the process is merely exposing hypocrisy on both sides.