SAN FRANCISCO — President Joe Biden will campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California ahead of the Sept. 14 recall vote, Newsom said Thursday.
“I’m humbled by the fact the president will be out here soon,” Newsom told reporters during a campaign stop in San Francisco’s Chinatown district.
While the White House pledged last month to offer Newsom campaign support with expected visits by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the unraveling situation in Afghanistan upended those plans.
Harris was set to return to her Bay Area base for a campaign rally with Newsom. But the vice president canceled the appearance after a terrorist attack in Kabul killed 13 American service members.
Asked about a potential visit, the White House referred POLITICO to Biden’s previous statement expressing support for Newsom. Biden last month praised Newsom as “a key partner in fighting the pandemic and delivering economic relief to working families” and urged voters to reject the recall, but the president did not offer specific commitments.
The optics of a cross-country campaign appearance could be poor for Biden as the president continues to face heavy criticism over Afghanistan. The president’s poll numbers have plunged nationally after the Taliban seized control of the country as American troops exited.
Biden’s numbers have also fallen in California, though he still enjoys strong ratings. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday night showed 58 percent of Californians approve of Biden, down from 70 percent in January and 66 percent in May. Still, 83 percent of Democrats back the president, and his support could help motivate the governor’s base.
Republicans jumped on Newsom’s comments Thursday.
“Dozens of California school children remain stranded in Afghanistan, abandoned by this Administration,” California Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson tweeted. “A joint campaign event to save @GavinNewsom’s job should not be @POTUS or Newsom’s priority right now.”
Time is running out for Biden to come to Newsom’s aid. Millions of Californians have already submitted mail ballots ahead of the recall election targeting Newsom.
The same PPIC poll this week suggested the race is Newsom’s to lose. California voters are answering two questions: whether to recall Newsom, 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 58 percent of voters rejecting the recall and 39 percent supporting his ouster.
Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.