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Biden says California voters will "get Donald Trump" if they vote Newsom out

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Biden says voters will "get Donald Trump" if they vote California Governor Newsom out 01:36

President Biden told California voters at a Long Beach rally in support of Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election, that the eyes of the nation are on the Golden State as it makes a decision that will "reverberate around the world," and warned "you either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you'll get Donald Trump."

The president described the leading Republican candidate, conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, as a "clone" of former President Trump and said California voters need to "send a message" to the rest of the country.

"The eyes of the nation are on you," Mr. Biden said while urging the crowd to vote "no" on the recall. "The rest of America is counting on you and so am I," he added.

Mr. Biden's rally for Newsom came on the final night before polls close and it capped a month of support for the California governor from national Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who campaigned against the recall last week in the Bay Area.

President Biden arrives to speak at a get out the vote rally for Governor Gavin Newsom at Long Beach City College on Monday, September 13, 2021. Evan Vucci / AP

Biden said Newsom will help the administration "finish the job" on beating the COVID-19 pandemic and praised him for the state's high vaccination rates. The president also said that voting to support Newsom means California is sending a message to the rest of the country that it must act on climate change.

Polls earlier this summer had indicated a close race, but recent ones have shown Newsom widening his lead and a senior adviser said Monday night "there's no scenario where we lose tomorrow." A Berkeley IGS poll released on Friday showed the "no" vote leading the "yes" vote 60.1%-38.5% among likely voters. 

Earlier in the day, Biden and Newsom surveyed wildfire damage in the Sacramento area. More than two million acres of land have burned in the state this year, on top of the three million acres that burned during last year's devastating fires.

In a briefing with Newsom and local officials, the president said he's seen bipartisan support for his infrastructure proposal. He said he couldn't include all of his climate proposals into that plan, so those are included in the reconciliation package. 

"Whether that passes or not, exactly how much I don't know, but we're gonna get it passed," he said. 

Mr. Biden also toured a federal fire support agency in Idaho. 

Mr. Biden's appearance on the night of the last full day of campaigning comes a few days later than some initially anticipated, but the withdrawal of U.S military forces from Afghanistan and the federal response to Hurricane Ida occupied much of Mr. Biden's time in recent weeks.

In the words of one senior aide, the president was eager to campaign for Newsom, because "we're going to have the back of people who've had our back."

Administration officials stress that the recall election should be treated as a political anomaly and not spark broader talk about what the results could mean for next year's midterm elections, when Democrats are currently forecasted to lose control of the House and struggle to win in other key gubernatorial or Senate contests. 

The last recall was held 18 years ago when an unpopular Democratic governor, Gray Davis, lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger, indisputably the biggest GOP name in a much larger field of candidates.

"It's not an apples-to-apples comparison," this senior aide said.

But a Newsom victory is likely to signal to Democrats elsewhere that running against GOP-proposed pandemic policy could help turn out base voters and win over independents next year. For weeks, Newsom has argued on the stump and in advertising that handing responsibility for California's response to the pandemic, wildfires and other key issues over to Republican candidates like radio talk show host Larry Elder could prove too risky. Recent polls show the strategy may be working, as opposition to the recall — and Newsom's removal —  is outpacing support for ousting him.

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