President Biden on Monday urged California voters to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in the state’s recall election by warning that his chief opponent will enact former President Trump’s conservative agenda in the liberal state.
Speaking at a Newsom campaign rally in Long Beach on the evening before Tuesday’s recall vote, Mr. Biden tied the governor’s chief recall rival, conservative radio host Larry Elder, to Mr. Trump’s policies.
“I’m going to make this as simple as I can. You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you’ll get Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said. “In Gavin … you have a governor to make sure Donald Trump’s dark, destructive, divisive politics never finds a place in California.”
The president repeatedly hammered his message that Mr. Trump’s brand of conservatism will take over California if voters recall Mr. Newsom. He warned that Republicans will oppose COVID-19 mask mandates and legislate restrictions on abortion.
“All of you know the last year I got to run against the real Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said. “This year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone I’ve ever seen in your state.”
“He’s a clone of Donald Trump. Can you imagine him being governor of this state? You can’t let that happen. There’s too much at stake,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s theme echoed one voiced by Mr. Newsom himself in a speech introducing the president.
In his remarks, Mr. Newsom sought to energize his liberal voters by ticking off a list of policies he will continue to support if he remains as governor.
“Pluralism is on the ballot. Diversity is on the ballot. Racial justice is on the ballot,” he said.
Mr. Newsom devoted most of his speech drawing comparisons between Mr. Elder and Mr. Trump.
“We may have defeated Donald Trump but we have not defeated Trumpism. Trumpism is still on the ballot in California and that’s why it is so important not just for all of us here … but also to send a statement all across the United States of America that Trumpism has no place here and Tumpism will be defeated all across the United States of American because we are better than that,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s appearance comes with a host of Democratic A-listers seeking to boost the embattled governor, including former President Barack Obama, who cut an ad for Mr. Newsom, and Vice President Kamala D. Harris, who appeared at a rally with him last week in San Leandro.
“The attempted recall of Gov. Newsom is a bold-faced GOP power grab,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, tweeted Monday.
The surge of support comes with polls showing Mr. Newsom likely to keep his post.
The two-part recall ballot asks voters if they want to oust Mr. Newsom, and then asks them to choose from a list of 46 replacement candidates.
The second part of the ballot only becomes relevant if a majority vote to recall the governor. Mr. Elder is far ahead in polling on this question.
But things have changed on the more-important first question since Mr. Elder emerged as the front-runner among the alternatives, turning the race into a more-traditional Democrat-vs.-Republican contest. Democrats have a huge advantage in such a race as they have a 2-1 registered-member edge in the Golden State.
An Emerson College/Nexstar Media survey released Monday found 60% of likely voters oppose the recall, while 40% favor it.
The California Secretary of State’s office reported that more than 8 million people have cast ballots so far in the election, representing slightly more than one-third of the 22 million who were mailed ballots.
Meanwhile, recall supporters are banking on polls showing that their voters are more energized than their anti-recall counterparts.
Mr. Elder said Monday that while top Democrats have championed Mr. Newsom, they have yet to defend his record on issues such as rising crime, homelessness, wildfires and housing costs.
“These politicians who have all cut commercials for him have never uttered the following magic words: Gavin Newsom has done a good job for the people of California,” said Mr. Elder on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show.
He made his final pitch at appearances Monday in Southern California with former Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Democratic ex-state Sen. Gloria Romero, and Venice community organizer Soledad Ursua.
Another top Republican candidate, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, said Democrats have “tried to discredit and delegitimize this recall in every way they can.”
“This is a movement by the people of California to take control of their government back, to throw out a corrupt political class that has caused California’s decline and failure for many years,” said Mr. Kiley on Fox News. “And it’s Gavin Newsom who has brought that decline into a total free-fall.”
In his final state swing, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that the recall was “a referendum on Gavin Newsom’s failures,” while Republican businessman John Cox said the governor “and his political insiders in Sacramento have driven California into the ground.”