California Gov. Gavin Newsom will get a boost in the final days of a campaign that is trying to kick him out of office from the nation’s most prominent Democrat: President Joe Biden.
Biden will join the first-term Democratic governor in the Southern California city of Long Beach on Monday, the day before voting ends. He’s the last of a string of prominent Democrats who have come to the deep-blue state to assist Newsom as he faces a recall election.
Vice President Kamala Harris, a California native, campaigned alongside him Wednesday, and former President Barack Obama appeared in a campaign ad urging Californians to vote no on the recall.
Biden’s visit, his first to California since taking office in January, underscores the importance of his party maintaining the governorship in the nation’s most populous state, which has the fifth-largest economy in the world. California has been the breeding ground for progressive policies on climate change, immigration and more. Beyond Harris, a handful of Biden’s Cabinet members have roots in the state.
Newsom also has been one of the most aggressive governors when it comes to the coronavirus, mandating that children wear masks in school and that health care workers get the vaccine. His restrictions on businesses and schools have been a driving force behind the recall as the pandemic remains a dominant force in American life during the first year of Biden’s presidency.
The visit also gives Biden a chance to demonstrate his political clout amid a difficult stretch of his presidency following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California taken from Aug. 20-29 showed 58% of Californians approve of Biden’s job performance. A terrorist attack in Afghanistan killed 13 U.S. service members and many more Afghans on Aug. 26.
The California Republican Party criticized Harris’ visit, saying it was inappropriate for her to campaign while Californians remain stuck in Afghanistan. On Thursday, an estimated 200 foreigners, including Americans, left Afghanistan on a commercial flight out of Kabul.
Talk radio host Larry Elder, the GOP frontrunner in the recall, said Harris and Biden were trying to distract attention from Newsom’s record on widespread homelessness, rising crime and long-running school and business closures during the pandemic.
All California voters received ballots in the mail. The ballots have two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and, if so, who should replace him? He’ll be removed from office if more than half of voters want him gone.
Biden’s stop in the state is part of a two-day trip to the Western United States. He’ll stop Monday in Boise, Idaho, to visit the National Interagency Fire Center and then head to Sacramento, California, to survey wildfire damage before appearing with Newsom.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden wants to highlight how wildfire season has become a year-round event, and how one in three Americans — or nearly 100 million people — have been affected by various forms of severe weather this year.
Scientists say climate change has made the American West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Biden also will visit Denver on Tuesday to promote his economic agenda.