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Civics & Democracy

In Long Beach, Biden Caps Democratic Blitz To Turn Out Recall Voters

An image of President Joe Biden in profile. Behind him is an illuminated sign that reads VOTE. A crowd of people with their backs to the camera are in the foreground.
President Joe Biden campaigned for Gov. Gavin Newsom on election eve at Long Beach City College.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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President Biden threw the full support of the White House behind California Governor Gavin Newsom in Long Beach on Monday night as the state’s recall election entered its final 24 hours.

Voters will decide today whether they want to keep Newsom, a Democrat, or replace him with someone from the long list of candidates eyeing his seat.

The decision you’re making — it’s going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly around the world
— President Joe Biden

“The decision you’re making — it’s going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly around the world,” Biden said at Long Beach City College, in front of raucous supporters and lines of palm trees illuminated with red, white and blue flood lights.

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The President urged voters to keep Newsom in office, describing him as “one of the best governors in the country” who “has had the courage to lead, standing up for science,” referencing California’s relatively strict pandemic safety restrictions.

“Voting ‘no’ will be protecting California from Trump Republicans trying to block us from beating this pandemic,” Biden said.

Biden also made a larger political argument, tying the GOP frontrunner in the recall, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, to former President Donald Trump.

“This year the leading Republican running for Governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I’ve ever seen in your state,” Biden said. “Can you imagine him being governor of this state? You can’t let that happen.”

Biden rounded out his pitch with a callout to the California governor’s commitment to maintaining abortion access in the wake of the new restrictive abortion law in Texas.

“If you don’t think women’s rights are under assault, you’re not looking," he said. "California — keep Gavin Newsom and send a message to the rest of the country: women are to be respected and their rights protected.

“We have 24 more hours to vote no,” Newsom said with a rueful laugh.

A small group of recall supporters stood outside the fence, chanting at the top of their lungs, “Recall Newsom,” but it didn’t appear to be audible to the Democrats on the stage.

Biden’s appearance capped a parade of high-profile Democrats who have stumped with Newsom to boost turnout. U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and Vice President Kamala Harris all took turns in recent weeks.

Elected officials at the rally in Long Beach projected confidence that Newsom would emerge victorious.

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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia spoke to the grief felt by millions of Americans who have had loved ones taken away by the pandemic. Garcia’s parents both succumbed to COVID.

“This has been a tough year. Many of us have lost so much,” said Garcia, describing how the President called to offer support when his mother, a healthcare worker, died.

This election isn’t a referendum on the Governor. It’s a referendum on us.
— Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia

“We have come together to fight and protect others from this virus,” Garcia said. “Governor Newsom … has followed the science and made the tough calls. This election isn’t a referendum on the Governor. It’s a referendum on us. It’s a referendum on people who believe in science and vaccinations”

Newsom has been heavily favored in recent polling to keep his job.

So far Republicans have returned their ballots at a slightly lower rate than Democrats, indicating Newsom’s supporters have closed the enthusiasm gap that had Democrats sweating in early August. It hasn’t hurt that Democrats raised more than $70 million to defeat the recall. And turning on the money tap with big ad spending appears to be paying off. The ads included one by former President Barack Obama.

In California, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of about 2-to-1, so the math is very tough for conservatives. There hasn’t been a GOP candidate elected in a statewide race since 2006.

But the race is not over (here’s how to vote today), and Republicans are hoping for a huge surge of in-person voting on Election Day to have a chance to beat the long odds.

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