SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — Vice President Kamala Harris cast California’s recall election as part of a national struggle for progressive policies while rallying voters in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has long framed the recall as a clash between California’s forward-looking vision and resurgent Trumpism. Harris put the White House’s stamp on that argument as she returned to her political home turf for a campaign rally alongside Newsom and most of California’s statewide Democratic officials.
In a speech of contrasts, Harris assailed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for defending an abortion ban that doesn’t create allowances for rape or incest by saying he would “eliminate all rapists” by aggressively prosecuting them. Harris said “that is not who we want in our leaders” and argued Newsom’s foes sought to reverse his policies on abortion rights, aid to undocumented immigrants and voting.
“It is because of his vision, it is because of the agenda, it is because of who he fights for,” Harris said. “California, let us send a message to the world that these are the things we stand for, these are the things we fight for, and we will not give up.”
That exhortation echoed Newsom’s campaign rhetoric. The Democratic governor predicted again Wednesday that a Republican governor would undermine California’s pandemic progress by unraveling vaccination mandates, and he warned that Republican frontrunner Larry Elder “celebrates what just happened to women in Texas and is celebrating the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade.”
“My name may be on the ballot, but we’re all on the ballot,” Newsom said. “Our principles, our values are on the ballot.”
Newsom has enlisted prominent Democrats as he seeks to rally his base. He campaigned last weekend with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in Southern California. President Joe Biden is expected to stump for Newsom next week, and the governor’s campaign is launching a statewide ad campaign featuring former President Barack Obama.
Republicans have pummeled Harris and Biden for carving out time to campaign for Newsom, arguing it demonstrates the White House’s distorted priorities.
“It is both pathetic and telling that Vice President Harris and Governor Newsom think political campaigning is a better use of time today than working to rescue the California children and families, Americans and allies who were abandoned in Afghanistan by the Biden Administration,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement.
Recent polling indicates voters would oppose the recall by double-digit margins. Voters have so far returned some 6.4 million ballots, or less than a third of the total mailed out, ahead of a September 14 finish.