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California Recall Election Live: Biden’s Push for Newsom

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At a rally in Long Beach on Monday night, President Biden urged California’s Democrats to turn out for Gov. Gavin Newsom on Election Day.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

LONG BEACH, Calif. — In a final push to maintain Democratic leadership in California and fend off the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, President Biden encouraged voters at a rally in the state on Monday night to reject the Republican-led effort to push Mr. Newsom from office.

Mr. Biden’s visit, his first to California as president, came the day before the election on Tuesday. The president’s arrival underscored the alarm within the Democratic Party at the possibility of losing the governorship of the nation’s most populous state, where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one.

“You can either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor, or you’ll get Donald Trump,” warned Mr. Biden, who compared the leading Republican candidate, Larry Elder, to a clone of the former president. “It’s not a joke.”

At the rally Monday evening in Long Beach, Mr. Biden appeared with Mr. Newsom, who polls show is likely to prevail, after a nervous summer for Democrats in which polls showed the recall had a good shot of succeeding. But since those early projections, millions of dollars have flooded the state on Mr. Newsom’s behalf, campaign money the Democratic Party has used in get-out-the-vote efforts.

In Mr. Newsom, the president sees not just a member of his own party whose job is in jeopardy, but an ally on policy who has been pushing vaccine mandates and aggressive efforts to combat climate change, two issues that have defined the early days of Mr. Biden’s presidency.

On the pandemic, Mr. Newsom has positioned himself in opposition to Mr. Trump, repeatedly describing the recall as a matter of life and death rather than a question of his popularity. His top rival, Mr. Elder, a conservative talk radio host, has said that lifting mask rules and vaccine mandates would be his top priority if elected.

Mr. Newsom has focused voter attention on the state’s strict pandemic rules as the Delta variant has surged, filling hospitals in states led by Republicans who have imposed fewer restrictions.

California was the first state to mandate that all teachers in both public and private schools be vaccinated or else face regular testing, and the governor has toured the state and implored residents to get vaccinated. Seventy percent of Californians have received at least one shot, a higher rate than many other large states, including New York, Texas and Florida.

Mr. Biden told voters at the rally that the election’s outcome would have an impact far beyond California. “It’s going to reverberate around the country and, this is no joke, it’s going to reverberate around the world,” he said.

Mr. Newsom, who took the stage before the president, similarly framed the election as a contest between California’s proud progressivism and what the Democrats characterized as the divisive politics that Mr. Trump represented.

“We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism,” Mr. Newsom said.

Mr. Newsom has struggled to connect with the state’s growing core of young and Latino voters, many of whom have said that they do not find the governor particularly compelling and that they are weary of partisan tribalism. On Monday, the choice to host a rally with the president at Long Beach City College, where 53 percent of the student body is Hispanic, appeared to be an attempt to dispel the notion that he has failed to engage Latino voters.

“We’re in Long Beach, one of the most diverse cities in the most diverse county, Los Angeles County, in one of the most diverse states in the most diverse democracy in the world,” Mr. Newsom said on Monday night.

The president and the governor appeared alongside Long Beach’s mayor, Robert Garcia, who is the first Latino and openly gay man to lead the diverse city of almost half a million people just south of Los Angeles, and was one of the speakers who introduced the president. Before the rally began, a smattering of supporters of Mr. Trump gathered near campus waving signs that read “unvaxxed lives matter” and “Trump won,” drawing chants of “Biden won!” from those heading to see the president.

Among those in the crowd was Daniel J. St. Jean, a student who turned 18 in the months since the presidential election last year. Supporting Mr. Newsom in the recall was the first time he had voted in his life. “I like that he speaks his mind, that he’s cool, calm and levelheaded,” Mr. St. Jean said.

Mr. Biden, who before traveling to Long Beach visited Northern California to tour areas devastated by wildfires and promote his climate agenda, won the presidential election in California last year by a wide margin, with the fear of four more years of Mr. Trump driving large numbers of Californians to the polls. Mr. Biden’s approval in the state has dropped slightly, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll, but is still high: About six in 10 Californians approve of his performance as president.

The campaign stop for Mr. Newsom was the president’s second in-person campaign event since taking office. In July, he made a fiery campaign appearance with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, who is running this year for his old office.

Asked why Mr. Biden had chosen to visit California now, rather than weeks ago, when many voters in the state had yet to cast their ballots by mail, Karine Jean-Pierre, a White House spokeswoman, pointed to the wildfire- and climate-related stops he had made earlier on Monday.

Presidents, she said, must often “do several things at the same time.” She added, “But I’m not going to go into any reasoning why he’s going now instead of two, three weeks ago.”

Karen Diaz, an electoral field manager for an immigrant rights group, canvassed in Palmdale, Calif., last month.
Credit…Rozette Rago for The New York Times

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The handful of volunteers gathered on Monday in the small office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, one of Southern California’s largest Latino and immigrant rights organizations.

Karen Diaz, a lead organizer, reminded them just how important the recall election would be. Without Gov. Gavin Newsom, she warned, undocumented immigrants could lose their rights to health care services and driver’s licenses. Latino essential workers, who have died from Covid-19 and have been sickened by the coronavirus at disproportionately high rates, would lose what protections they do have. And money set aside to help renters and public school students would soon evaporate.

Latinos have been some of the most ambivalent voters in the weeks leading up to the recall, turning in ballots at a lower rate than Black, Asian and white voters. While Mr. Newsom’s standing with Latino voters has improved in recent polls, some see grim warnings for…

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