LONG BEACH, Calif. — President Joe Biden joined Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday night for a final campaign stop in Long Beach on the eve of the recall election, lending his firepower to fight against the governor’s possible ouster and underscoring the national importance of defeating the effort.
“California, I’m not sure you know it,” Biden said, “This isn’t hyperbole: The eyes of the nation are on California because of the decision you’re about to make. The decision you’re about to make is going to have a huge impact on California, and it’s going to reverberate around the nation. And, quite frankly, not a joke — around the world.”
The rally capped a long day in the West for the president, and a monthslong campaign for Newsom and his opponents. Earlier in the day, Biden traveled to Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento to survey wildfire damage and discuss his administration’s response.
A pre-show lineup of dignitaries from across Democratic Party ranks — including Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks and state elected officeholders — rallied the crowd of a few hundred people at Long Beach City College before the president and governor’s arrival shortly before 7 p.m.
The president’s stop in California marked the closing campaign act for Newsom, who has touted support from several high-profile Democrats in recent weeks, including former President Barack Obama, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris returned to California to rally voters for the governor.
The Biden administration has a vested interest in the recall’s outcome. A Newsom victory could lift Democrats after a politically challenging several weeks for the president, whose popularity has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s resurgence and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The election of a Republican governor could be devastating to Democrats nationwide, with the possibility that the new governor would appoint a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., should she retire and leave an open seat in the deeply divided Senate.
“We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism,” Newsom said to the crowd before Biden took the state. “Trumpism is still on the ballot in California and that’s why it’s so important, not just for all of us here 40 million Americans strong in the nation’s largest and most populous state, but also to send a statement, all across the United States of America, that Trump has no place here, and Trumpism will be defeated for the United States of America, because we’re better than that.”
Recent polls suggest Newsom probably has little to worry about, after an early split among voters a few weeks ago developed into a strong showing of support for the first-term governor. A University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, released Friday showed that 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom compared with 38.5% in favor of ousting the governor.
Meanwhile, Republican front-runner Larry Elder finished a full day of campaigning around Los Angeles County, which began at Monterey Park City Hall to present a medal to a World War II veteran and discuss his campaign platform, including his support for school choice and repealing vaccination mandates. He received a warm reception from attendees, as well as former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who have steadily supported him in the final weeks of his campaign.
Across the street from the civic center complex, Robert, a retired truck dispatcher who did not want to give his last name, stood on the lawn outside his American flag-festooned home holding a cardboard sign with the words “No Recall” in white paint.