President Joe Biden implored California voters to send a message to the nation by keeping Gavin Newsom as their governor in Tuesday’s recall election and rejecting a Republican whom he derided as a “the closest thing to a Trump clone I’ve ever seen in your state.”
“The eyes of the nation are on California,” Biden told a rally at Long Beach City College on Monday night. “Because the decision you’re about to make isn’t just going to have a huge impact on California, it’s going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly, not a joke, around the world.”
Again and again, Biden tied the leading Republican candidate, Larry Elder, to former President Donald Trump and his policies.
The president’s stop in Long Beach, part of a tour that includes Idaho and Colorado, was to make the case that the Democratic governor’s leadership was crucial to continue the state’s battles against the coronavirus and climate change.
Newsom appears well-positioned to keep his job, according to surveys.
Democrats are closely watching whether his campaign themes prove successful and can be replicated in mid-term campaigns to protect the party from losing control of the U.S. House and Senate. The incumbent president’s party traditionally loses ground in mid-term elections.
Biden on Monday called Newsom essential to the state’s struggles against the pandemic as well as the devastating wildfires made worse by the effects of climate change.
“By voting no, you’ll be protecting California from another Trump climate denier, who said global warming is quote ‘a crock,’ and depicts it as a myth,” Biden said. (A “no” vote is to keep the governor from being ousted.)
Yet Newsom’s opponents are seizing on his handling of those issues to urge his removal from office.
The state mailed 22 million ballots to voters, who have until Tuesday night to bring them ballots to drop boxes, polling places or county election offices. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Tuesday.
More than 7.9 million ballots had been returned as of Monday, according to Political Data, Inc. Fifty-two percent of those ballots came from registered Democrats and the remainder were nearly evenly split between Republicans and independents.
Democratic leaders have streamed into California in the final days of the campaign.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Northern California last week to warn that California’s progressive laws on reproductive rights, labor rights and immigration could be reversed with Newsom’s recall. “California, let us send a message to the world that these are the things we stand for, these are the things we fight for, and we will not give up,” she said.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar also campaigned in the state.
Recent polls suggest Californians won’t vote to recall the governor they elected in in 2018 by a nearly 24-point margin. Six out of 10 likely voters polled by Emerson College on September 10 and 11 said they oppose his recall and other recent polls have been similar.
Elder, a conservative commentator, had the support of 30% of those surveyed for the Emerson poll, while all other candidates were in the single digits.
Elder, who has attacked Newsom’s handling of various state crises, insists that as governor he would not be an adversary to the Biden administration and would reason with the Democratic super-majority in the California legislature.
Monday’s rally came after Biden had traveled to Boise, Idaho, and the Sacramento area for updates on how federal and state agencies are fighting an especially rough season of wild fires. He will also take an aerial tour of the area south of Lake Tahoe where the Caldor Fire has burned more than 200,000 acres.