SAN FRANCISCO – President Joe Biden will stand up for Governor Gavin Newsom of California ahead of the September 14 recall vote, Newsom said Thursday.
“I am humbled that the president will be here soon,” Newsom told reporters during a campaign stop in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood.
While the White House pledged last month to support the Newsom campaign with the expected visits from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the easing situation in Afghanistan turned those plans upside down.
Harris was due to return to their base in the Bay Area for a campaign rally with Newsom. But the Vice President canceled the performance after 13 American soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul.
When asked about a possible visit, the White House referred POLITICO to Biden’s previous statement expressing his support for Newsom. Biden last month praised Newsom as “a key partner in fighting the pandemic and providing economic relief to working families” and called on voters to decline the recall, but the president made no specific commitments.
The look of a cross-border campaign appearance could be bad for Biden, as the president is still exposed to severe criticism of Afghanistan. The president’s polls fell across the country after the Taliban took control of the country following the withdrawal of American troops.
Biden’s numbers have also fallen in California, although he still enjoys strong ratings. A poll published Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California found 58 percent of Californians approve of Biden, up from 70 percent in January and 66 percent in May. Still, 83 percent of Democrats support the president, and his support could help motivate the governor’s grassroots.
Republicans responded to Newsom’s comments on Thursday.
“Dozens of California school children remain stranded in Afghanistan and have been abandoned by this government,” California Republican Party leader Jessica Millan Patterson tweeted. “A joint campaign to save money @GavinNewsom‘s job shouldn’t be @POTUS or Newsom’s priority right now. “
Biden is running out of time to come to the rescue of Newsom. Millions of Californians cast postal ballots before the Newsom recall vote.
The same PPIC poll this week suggested Newsom must lose the race. California voters answer two questions: whether Newsom should be recalled and who should succeed him. If a majority of voters choose to oust Newsom, the replacement candidate with the most votes would become governor. The poll found that 58 percent of voters oppose the removal and 39 percent support his removal.
Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.