President Joe Biden Monday evening in Long Beach urged California voters to reject the recall of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing the pandemic, women’s rights, climate change and minimum wage, while warning of Republican ties to Donald Trump.
“We need science, we need courage, we need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom,” Biden said during the approximately 15-minute address at Long Beach City College. “A governor who follows science, who’s got the courage to do what’s right.”
Biden sought to tie supporters of the recall to Trump, who is tremendously unpopular in California.
“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you get Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd of approximately 1,100, including Sen. Alex Padilla and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“I got to run against the real Donald Trump. Well, this year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I’ve ever seen,” said Biden, referring to radio talk show host Larry Elder.
Taking the stage before Biden, Newsom took a similar tack, declaring his oft-repeated line: “We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism. Trumpism is still on the ballot in California.”
The rally was the last of Newsom’s campaign to attempt to defeat the recall effort. Tuesday is the deadline for voters statewide to cast a ballot or return their vote-by-mail ballot.
Newsom has been stepping up his campaign activities in recent days, campaigning in Northern California last Wednesday with his longtime ally, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Elder, the leader in the polls to replace Newsom if the recall is successful, dismissed the presidential support for the governor.
“If Gavin Newsom thinks that flying in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — not exactly the most admired government officials at the present time — will make him look better, that’s all you need to know about how oblivious and detached Newsom is from a large majority of Californians,” Elder tweeted last week.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, another Republican candidate on Tuesday’s ballot, also dismissed the president’s planned visit.
“Washington, DC, is not going to save Gavin Newsom,” Faulconer said. “He wants to make it about anything else but him. This recall is a referendum on Gavin Newsom’s failure. That’s why so many Californians not only signed the recall petition, but that’s why Californians in all parts of the state, all party registrations, are ready for a change at the top.”
Earlier Monday, Biden stopped in Boise, Idaho, for a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center, and then Sacramento on Monday afternoon to survey wildfire damage. He was joined there by Newsom, who flew with the President to Long Beach.
As Biden departs Tuesday, Newsom and his potential successors — 46 of them — will begin the waiting game as in-person voting enters its final day and the deadline arrives for people to return their vote-by-mail ballots. According to the Secretary of State’s office, more than 8 million vote-by-mail ballots had been returned statewide as of Sunday. Nearly 22.4 million were sent to voters.
The recall ballot contains only two questions: should Newsom be recalled — removed — from office, and if so, who should replace him?
If 50% or more voters respond “no” to the first question, Newsom will remain in office, and the results of the second question will be irrelevant. If more than 50% of people vote “yes” on the first question, Newsom will be removed from office and replaced with the candidate who receives the most votes in the second question on the ballot — even if far less than a majority.
Although 46 replacement candidates are on the ballot, Elder has consistently led most polls with around 20% and is the likely Republican winner if a majority vote to recall Newsom.
Polls are open in San Diego County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday if mailed, or dropped off at an official location.
City News Service and Reuters contributed to this article.